Biomarkers of peripheral muscle fatigue (BPMFs) are used to offer insights into mechanisms of exhaustion during exercise in order to detect abnormal fatigue or to detect defective metabolic pathways. This review aims at describing recent advances and future perspectives concerning the most important biomarkers of muscle fatigue during exercise.
BPMFs are classified according to the mechanism of fatigue related to adenosine-triphosphate-metabolism, acidosis, or oxidative-metabolism. Muscle fatigue is also related to an immunological response. impaired calcium handling, disturbances in bioenergetic pathways, and genetic responses. The immunological and genetic response may make the muscle susceptible to fatigue but may not directly cause muscle fatigue. Production of BPMFs is predominantly dependent on the type of exercise. BPMFs need to change as a function of the process being monitored, be stable without appreciable diurnal variations, correlate well with exercise intensity, and be present in detectable amounts in easily accessible biological fluids. The most well-known BPMFs are serum lactate and interleukin-6. The most widely applied clinical application is screening for defective oxidative metabolism in mitochondrial disorders by means of the lactate stress test. The clinical relevance of most other BPMFs, however, is under debate, since they often depend on age, gender, physical fitness, the energy supply during exercise, the type of exercise needed to produce the BPMF, and whether healthy or diseased subjects are investigated.
Though the role of BPMFs during fatigue is poorly understood, measuring BPMFs under specific, standardised conditions appears to be helpful for assessing biological states or processes during exercise and fatigue.