Association between Physical Activity and Serum Bilirubin Levels and Its Potential Modulating Effect in Trained and Untrained Adult Males

  • Musa Ibrahim Department of Human Physiology, Kogi state university, Anyigba, Nigeria
  • Mohammed Mabrouk Department of Human Physiology, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria
  • Yusuf Tanko Department of Human Physiology, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria


Abstract: Why studies over the last two decades had shown low levels of serum bilirubin to be associated with high risk for varieties of systemic diseases in human, we propose that one potential modifiable behavior to increase bilirubin levels is physical activity. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between physical activity and serum bilirubin levels and its potential modulating effect among trained and untrained adult males. Employing purposeful sampling technique, 20 trained and 20 untrained adult males were recruited for this study following inclusion and exclusion criteria. The university institutional review board (ABUTH/HREC/TRG/36) gave approval for all procedures in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. Blood samples were taken to measured serum total bilirubin and leukocyte counts respectively from all subjects at rest. The VO2Max was estimated from a standard regression equation. The independent students-t -test was used to compare values between the two groups. Linear regression analysis was also used for prediction of any association. The level of significance was set at P< 0.05. Our result showed that VO2 max exhibited significant differences between the trained and untrained, leukocyte counts in the untrained group (140.10±1.65 x 50 mm3) was significantly (p< 0.05) higher compared to the trained group (134.50±2.46 x 50 mm3). On the other hand, serum total bilirubin in the trained group (11.35±2.6 mmol/l) was significantly (p < 0.05) higher compared to the untrained group (4.80±1.6 mmol/l). The VO2Max, correlated positively with serum total bilirubin (p < 0.0001), in both the untrained group (R2= 0.002, +0.045) and in the trained group (R2= 0.088, +0.297) respectively. In addition, Leukocyte counts correlated negatively with serum total bilirubin (p < 0.0001), in the untrained group (R2= 0.162, -0.403) and correlated positively in the trained group (R2= 0.032, +0.178; p < 0.0001). With the exciting results revealed, physical activity was positively associated with bilirubin among the trained males in an increasing trend.  This means that an increased physical activity might increase hemooxyginase-1 activity which is the enzyme responsible for the conversion of biliverdin to bilirubin. In addition, leukocyte counts in the untrained  was higher compared to the trained which means the potential modulating effect of the bilirubin might be on inflammation process. This study is novel, as, to our knowledge, no studies to date have examined this association. This finding has implications for sports physicians, diagnosis or applied exercise physiology.                                                         
 Keywords: trained, untrained, physical activity, bilirubin, leukocyte


Download data is not yet available.


1. Akil, M., Kara, E., Bicer, M., and Acat, M. The Effects of Submaxımal Exercıses on the Thyroıd Hormonal Metabolısm of Sedentary Indıvıduals. Nigde University Journal of Physical Education and Sport Science, 2011: 5(1): 28-32.
2. Alessio HM, Blasi ER: Physical activity as a natural antioxidant booster and its effect on a healthy life span. Res Q Exerc Sport 1997, 68:292–302.
3. American College of Sport Medicine. Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription 4th ed. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger; 1991.
4. Banfi G., Colombini A., Lombardi G., et al. Metabolic markers in sports medicine. Adv Clin Chem, (2012). 56, 1–54.
5. Burtis, C.A. Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry. 3rd edition. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders, 1999.
6. Dacie JV and Lewis SM .Practical hematology 5th ed. London: Churchill Livingstone; 1975.
7. de Sauvage Nolting PR, Kusters DM, Hutten BA, Kastelein JJ: Serum bilirubin levels in familial hypercholesterolemia: a new risk marker for cardiovascular disease? J Lipid Res 2011, 52:1755–1759.
8. Devries MC, Samjoo IA, Hamadeh MJ, Tarnopolsky MA: Effect of endurance exercise on hepatic lipid content, enzymes, and adiposity in men and women. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2008, 16:2281–2288.
9. Djousse L, Levy D, Cupples LA, Evans JC, D'Agostino RB, Ellison RC: Total serum bilirubin and risk of cardiovascular disease in the Framingham offspring study. Am J Cardiol 2001, 87:1196–1200. A4, 7
10. Franchini M, Targher G, Lippi G: Serum bilirubin levels and cardiovascular disease risk: a Janus Bifrons? Adv Clin Chem 2010, 50:47–63.
11. Giral P, Ratziu V, Couvert P, Carrie A, Kontush A, Girerd X, Chapman MJ: Plasma bilirubin and gamma-glutamyltransferase activity are inversely related in dyslipidemic patients with metabolic syndrome: relevance to oxidative stress. Atherosclerosis 2010, 210:607–613.
12. Griffith, H.W. Guide to sports ınjuries. Birol Press Release Distribution and Trade Limited Company _stanbul., (2002). 6-7.
13. Han SS, Na KY, Chae D-W, Kim YS, Kim S, Chin HJ: High serum bilirubin is associated with the reduced risk of diabetes mellitus and diabetic nephropathy. Tohoku J Exp Med 2010, 221:133–140.
14. Ichihara Y, Hattori R, Anno T, Okuma K, Yokoi M, Mizuno Y, et al. Oxygen uptake and its relation to physical activity and other risk factors in asymptomatic middle-aged Japanese. J Cardiopulm Rehabil 1996;16:378—85.
15. Jackson, R,B., Manwaring, J.H., and Caldwell, M.M. Prediction of functional aerobic capacity without exercise testing. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 1990, 22:863-870.
16. Koç, H., and Tamer, K. The effects of aerobic and anaerobic trainings on lipoprotein levels. Erciyes University Journal of Health Sciences, (2008). 17: 137-143.
17. Loprinzi P., D. and Abott, K. Physical activity and total serum bilirubin levels among insulin sensitive and insulin resistant U.S Adult. Journal of Diabetes and metabolic disorders 2014, 13 (1):47
18. Meeusen R, Duclos M, Foster C, Fry A, Gleeson M, Nieman D, Raglin J, Rietjens G, Steinacker J, Urhausen A; European College of Sport Science; American College of Sports Medicine. (2013).
19. Menevse, A. The comparison of biochemical blood levels of athletes and sedentary. World Journal of Sport Sciences, 2011. 5(3):163-168.
20. Novotný L, and Vítek L. Inverse relationship between serum bilirubin and atherosclerosis in men: a meta-analysis of published studies. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2003;228(5):568-671.
21. Ouédraogo, M., Zerbo, P., Konaté, K., Barro, N., and Laya L. S. Effect of Long-term use of Sida rhombifolia L. Extract on Haemato-biochemical Parameters of Experimental Animals. British Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology, 2013, 4(1): 18-24.
22. Radhakrishnan R, Kanigere M, Menon J, Calvin S, Janish A, Srinivasan K: Association between unconjugated bilirubin and schizophrenia. Psychiatry Res 2011, 189:480–482.
23. Samir, Shereen, M. Mostafa, Abeer, F. Role of ghrelin in exhaustive exercise- induced oxidative stress in rat Brain and liver. International Journal of Applied Exercise Physiology 2013, 2(1): 26-39.
24. Sherwin, J.E., and Thompson, C. Liver Function. Clinical Chemistry: Theory, Analysis, Correlation. Mosby Inc., EDS St Louis USA. 2003.
25. Swift DL, Johannsen NM, Earnest CP, Blair SN, Church TS: Effect of different doses of aerobic exercise training on total bilirubin levels. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2012, 44:569–574.
26. Tanaka M, Budhathoki S, Hirata A, Morita M, Kono S, Adachi M, Kawate H, Ohnaka K, Takayanagi R: Behavioral and clinical correlates of serum bilirubin concentrations in Japanese men and women. BMC Endocr Disord 2013, 13:39.
27. Turgay, F., Karamızrak, S.O., __le_en, Ç., Sessiz, H., Acarbay, _. Effects of exercise at the aerobic and anaerobic thresholds on blood lipids and lipoproteins. Turkish Journal of Sports Medicine, (2002).37(1): 1 -14.
28. Vitek L: The role of bilirubin in diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular diseases. Front Pharmacol 2012, 3:55.
29. Xu T, Zhang J, Liu W, Kong Y, Zhang Y: Association of serum bilirubin with stroke severity and clinical outcomes. Can J Neurol Sci 2013, 40:80–84.
30. Yang Z, Liang Y, Li C, Xi W, Zhong R: Bilirubin levels in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: increased or decreased? Rheumatol Int 2012, 32:2423–2430.
31. Zucker SD, Horn PS, Sherman KE: Serum bilirubin levels in the U.S. population: gender effect and inverse correlation with colorectal cancer. Hepatology 2004,40:827–835.
How to Cite
Ibrahim, M., Mabrouk, M., & Tanko, Y. (2016). Association between Physical Activity and Serum Bilirubin Levels and Its Potential Modulating Effect in Trained and Untrained Adult Males. International Journal of Applied Exercise Physiology, 5(1), 36-42. Retrieved from
Applied Exercise Physiology