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J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2006 Mar;46(1):158-62.

Relationship between salivary IgA secretion and upper respiratory tract infection following a 160-km race.

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  • 1Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608, USA.



The relationship between salivary IgA secretion rate and upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) was studied in 155 ultramarathoners (126 males, 29 females, mean age 46.5+/-0.7 y) who had qualified to run the 160-km 2003 Western States Endurance Run.


Subjects provided saliva samples during registration, held the morning before the race, and within 5-10 minutes postrace (mean race time, 26.2+/-0.3 h). Unstimulated saliva was collected by expectoration for 4 minutes into 15-mL plastic, sterilized vials. Runners finishing the race and providing pre- and postrace saliva samples (n=106) turned in a health log specifying URTI episodes and severity of symptoms for the 2-week period following the race.


The total volume of saliva that the runners was able to expectorate during sample collection decreased 51% postrace compared to prerace values (P<0.001). Saliva protein concentration increased 20% (P<0.001) while the saliva protein IgA concentration decreased 10% (P<0.05). Salivary IgA secretion rate decreased 46% when comparing pre- to postrace values (P<0.001). Twenty-four percent of the runners finishing the race and providing salivary samples reported an URTI episode lasting 2 days or longer during the 2-week period following the race (mean number of days with symptoms was 5.4+/-0.6 days). The decrease in salivary IgA secretion rate (pre- to postrace) was 53% greater in the 25 runners reporting URTI (-355+/-45 microg/min) compared to the 81 runners not reporting URTI (-232+/-37 microg/min), (P=0.04).


In summary, nearly 1 in 4 runners reported an URTI episode during the 2-week period following a 160-km race, and the decrease in salivary IgA secretion rate was significantly greater in these runners compared to those not reporting URTI.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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