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Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1999 Oct;80(5):452-60.

Impact of three different types of exercise on components of the inflammatory response.

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Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


It was hypothesized that muscle injury would be greater with eccentric than with all-out or prolonged exercise, and that immune changes might provide an indication that supplements the information provided by traditional markers such as creatine kinase (CK) or delayed-onset muscle soreness. Eight healthy males [mean (SE): age = 24.9 (2.3) years, maximum oxygen consumption (VO2(max)) = 43.0 (3.1) ml x kg(-1) x min(-1)] were each assigned to four experimental conditions, one at a time, using a randomized-block design: 5 min of cycle ergometer exercise at 90% VO2(max) (AO), a standard circuit-training routine (CT), 2 h cycle ergometer exercise at 60% VO2(max) (Long), or remained seated for 5 h. Blood samples were analyzed for CK, natural killer (NK) cell counts (CD3(-)/CD16(+)56(+)), cytolytic activity and plasma levels of the cytokines interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, and tissue necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). CK levels were only elevated significantly 72 h following CT. NK cell counts increased significantly during all three types of exercise, but returned to pre-exercise baseline values within 3 h of recovery. Cytolytic activity per NK cell was not significantly modified by any type of exercise. Prolonged exercise induced significant increases in plasma IL-6 and TNF-alpha. We conclude that the lack of correlation between traditional markers of muscle injury (plasma CK concentrations and muscle soreness rankings) and immune markers of the inflammatory response suggests that, for the types and intensities of exercise examined in this study, the exercise-induced inflammatory response is modified by humoral and cardiovascular correlates of exercise.

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