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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2000 Oct;89(4):1499-504.

Exercise elevates plasma levels but not gene expression of IL-1beta, IL-6, and TNF-alpha in blood mononuclear cells.

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  • 1Graduate Department of Community Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto M5S 2W6, Ontario, Canada M3M 3B9.


Physical activity induces a subclinical inflammatory response, mediated in part by leukocytes, and manifested by elevated concentrations of circulating proinflammatory cytokines, including interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). However, the source of the cytokines that appear during exercise remains unknown. In this study, we examined exercise-induced changes in plasma cytokine concentrations and their corresponding mRNA expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Ten healthy [peak oxygen uptake = 48.8 +/- 6.5 (SD) ml. kg(-1). min(-1)] but untrained men [age = 25 +/- 5 (SD) yr] undertook 3 h of exercise (cycling and inclined walking) at 60-65% peak oxygen uptake. Circulating leukocyte subset counts were elevated during and 2 h postexercise but returned to normal within 24 h. Plasma concentrations of IL-1beta, IL-6, and TNF-alpha peaked at the end of exercise and remained elevated at 2 h (IL-6) and up to 24 h (IL-1beta and TNF-alpha) postexercise. Cytokine gene expression in circulating mononuclear cells was measured by using the reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction; mRNA accumulation did not change with exercise. In conclusion, mRNA accumulation of IL-1beta, IL-6, and TNF-alpha in circulating mononuclear cells is not affected by 3 h of moderate endurance exercise and does not seem to account for the observed increases in plasma cytokines.

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