Apelin as a Potential Regulator of Peak Athletic Performance

Apelin, as a cardiokine/myokine, is emerging as an important regulator of cardiac and skeletal muscle homeostasis. Loss of apelin signaling results in premature cardiac aging and sarcopenia. However, the contribution of apelin to peak athletic performance remains largely elusive. In this paper, we assessed the impact of maximal cardiorespiratory exercise testing on the plasma apelin levels of 58 male professional soccer players. Circulating apelin-13 and apelin-36, on average, increased transiently after a single bout of treadmill exercise; however, apelin responses (Δapelin = peak − baseline values) showed a striking interindividual variability. Baseline apelin-13 levels were inversely correlated with those of Δapelin-13 and Δapelin-36. Δapelin-13 showed a positive correlation with the maximal metabolic equivalent, relative maximal O2 consumption, and peak circulatory power, whereas such an association in the case of Δapelin-36 could not be detected. In conclusion, we observed a pronounced individual-to-individual variation in exercise-induced changes in the plasma levels of apelin-13 and apelin-36. Since changes in plasma apelin-13 levels correlated with the indicators of physical performance, whole-body oxygen consumption and pumping capability of the heart, apelin, as a novel exerkine, may be a determinant of peak athletic performance.