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J Interferon Cytokine Res. 2007 Dec;27(12):1003-11. doi: 10.1089/jir.2007.0050.

Quercetin ingestion does not alter cytokine changes in athletes competing in the Western States Endurance Run.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Health, Leisure, and Exercise Science, Fischer Hamilton/Nycom Biochemistry Laboratory, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina. 28608, USA.


The purpose of this study was to measure the influence of quercetin on plasma cytokines, leukocyte cytokine mRNA, and related variables in ultramarathoners competing in the 160-km Western States Endurance Run (WSER). Sixty-three runners were randomized to quercetin and placebo groups and under double-blinded methods ingested 1000 mg/day quercetin for 3 weeks before the WSER. Thirty-nine of the 63 subjects (n = 18 for quercetin, n = 21 for placebo) finished the race and provided blood samples the morning before the race and 15-30 min postrace. Significant prerace to postrace WSER increases were measured for nine proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory plasma cytokines, cortisol (quercetin = 94%, placebo = 96%), serum C-reactive protein (CRP) (mean +/- SE absolute increase, quercetin = 31.8 +/- 4.2, placebo = 38.2 +/- 5.0 mg/L), and creatine kinase (CK) (quercetin = 21,575 +/- 3,977, placebo = 19,455 +/- 3,969 U/L), with no significant group differences. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) mRNA did not change post-WSER, with a significant decrease measured for leukocyte IL-8 mRNA (0.21 +/- 0.03-fold and 0.25 +/- 0.04-fold change from rest, quercetin and placebo, respectively) and significant increases for IL-1Ra mRNA (1.43 +/- 0.18-fold and 1.40 +/- 0.16-fold change, quercetin and placebo, respectively) and IL-10 mRNA (12.9 +/- 3.9-fold and 17.2 +/- 6.1-fold change, quercetin and placebo, respectively), with no significant differences between groups. In conclusion, quercetin ingestion (1 g/day) by ultramarathon athletes for 3 weeks before a competitive 160-km race significantly increased plasma quercetin levels but failed to attenuate muscle damage, inflammation, increases in plasma cytokine and hormone levels, and alterations in leukocyte cytokine mRNA expression.

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