Biology of Sport
eISSN: 2083-1862
ISSN: 0860-021X
Biology of Sport
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vol. 41
Original paper

Gut microbiota and physical activity level: characterization from sedentary to soccer players

Cristian Petri
Gabriele Mascherini
Pascal Izzicupo
Diletta Rosati
Matteo Cerboneschi
Serena Smeazzetto
Luis Suarez Arrones

  1. Department of Sports and Computer Science, Section of Physical Education and Sports, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Seville, Spain
  2. Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, University of Florence, 50134 Florence, Italy
  3. Department of Medicine and Aging Sciences, University “G. D’Annunzio” of Chieti-Pescara, Via L. Polacchi, 11, 66100 Chieti, Italy
  4. Department of Medical Biotechnologies, University of Siena, 53100 Siena, Italy
  5. NEXT Genomics Srl, Sesto Fiorentino, 50019 Florence, Italy
Biol Sport. 2024;41(3):169–176
Online publish date: 2024/01/30
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Evidence of the relationship between physical activity and gut microbiota composition is steadily increasing. The purpose of the study is to compare the gut microbiota composition of a group of elite male soccer players with a group of subjects with different physical activity levels. Cross-sectional studies were performed on 91 healthy young males, in detail: 17 elite soccer players (23.7±4.2 yrs, BMI 23.2±1.2 kg/m2); 14 with high levels of physical training (24.5±5.6 yrs, BMI 22.7±0.8 kg/m2); 23 with moderate levels of physical training (29.3±3.9 yrs, BMI 22.5±0.8 kg/m2); and 37 healthy men without exercise habits(28.1±5.9 yrs, BMI 22.4±1.0 kg/m2). Relative microbiota composition was determined by analyzing DNA extracted from stool samples. The quality and quantity of extracted DNA were assessed using a Qubit Fluorometer. Differences between subjects’ populations were analyzed using a one-way ANOVA, and Bonferroni’s post-hoc test was employed to identify localized effects. Elite soccer players and subjects with high physical activity levels showed a significantly higher prevalence of the nine microbiota populations analyzed than subjects with moderate physical training or who were sedentary. No differences were found in the Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio among the different study populations. This study reports the gut microbiota parameters of elite footballers for the first time. In addition, it brings new insights into the effects of different levels of physical activity on the composition of the gut microbiota.

Microbiome, Athletes, Sport, Health, Training

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