Skeletal muscle phenotype and game performance in elite women football players

Magni Mohr, Ioannis G. Fatouros, Athanasios Z. Jamurtas, Dimitrios Draganidis, Martin Thomassen, Christina Ørntoft, Georgios Ermidis, Georgios Loules, Dimitrios Batsilas, Athanasios Poulios, Konstantinos Papanikolaou, Morten B. Randers, Peter Krustrup, Lars Nybo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


We combined game activity analyses with skeletal muscle phenotypes and comprehensive physiological testing to elucidate factors of importance for physical performance in elite women's football. GPS-data from an experimental game, sprint and endurance testing, and muscle tissue analysis of metabolic enzyme activity, protein expression and fiber type composition were completed for international top-level women players (n = 20; age; 23 ± 4 yrs, height; 166 ± 10 cm, weight; 60 ± 8 kg; VO2max; 51 ± 6 ml/min/kg). Muscle monocarboxylate transporter 4 (MCT4) protein expression explained 46% of the variance in total game distance, while the ability to maintain high-intensity running (HIR) during the final 15 min of the game correlated to myosin heavy chain 1 (MHCI) and Na+-K+ ATPase β1, FXYD1 (phospholemman) and superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2) protein expression (range: r = 0.51–0.71; all p 4 m/s2) correlated with platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule (PECAM-1) protein expression (r = 0.51; p 4 m/s2). In conclusion, for elite women players’ game endurance performance and resistance to end-game fatigue were affected by monocarboxylate transporter expression and myosin heavy chain profile. HIR was also correlated to ion transporter expression and muscle antioxidative capacity. Finally, the importance of functional strength and measures of muscle vascularization in relation to total game decelerations and accelerations, respectively, illustrates the complex physiological demands in elite women's football.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-53
Number of pages15
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • fatigue
  • football
  • high-intensity exercise
  • ion transporters
  • metabolic enzymes
  • muscle fiber types
  • female


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