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Circulating leucocyte and lymphocyte subpopulations before and after intensive endurance exercise to exhaustion.

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Institute of Sports and Performance Medicine, University of Saarland, Federal Republic of Germany.


Seventeen healthy cyclists [age 20.8 (SD 4.8) years; body mass 68.3 (SD 7.7) kg; body fat, 11.4 (SD 2.6) %; height, 179.1 (SD 5.9) cm; VO2max, 60.9 (SD 7.4)] conducted intensive endurance exercise to exhaustion (stress test, ST) on a cycle ergometer at 110% of their individual anaerobic threshold [Than,individual; exercise intensity, 3.97 (SD 0.6); duration, 23.9 (SD 8.3) min; maximal lactate concentration, 7.39 (SD 2.59) mmol.l-1]. The distribution of leucocyte subpopulations was measured flow cytometrically: before, immediately after (0), 5 (+5), 30 (+30) and 60 (+60) min after ST. The lymphocytes (0 min) and granulocytes (+60 min) were mainly responsible for the increase of leucocytes. Lymphocytes were significantly lower at +30 and +60 min than before. CD3-CD16/CD56+ (+480%) and CD8(+)-lymphocytes (+211%) increased at 0 min more than the other lymphocyte subpopulations (CD(3+)-cells, +100%; CD(4+)-cells, +56%; CD(19+)-cells, +64%). CD3-CD16/CD(56+)- and CD(8+)-cells also were mainly responsible for the decreased values of lymphocytes at +30 min and +60 min compared to before. At 0 min naive CD(8+)-cells (CD45RA+, CD45RO-) increased more than memory CD(8+)-cells (CD45RA-, CD45RO+). Changes of naive and memory CD(4+)-cells did not differ. All lymphocyte subpopulations, in particular CD(8+)- and CD3-CD16/CD(56+)-cells, decreased rapidly between 0 min and 5 min. We conclude that an intensive endurance exercise to exhaustion causes a mobilisation of lymphocytes, especially of natural killer cells (CD3-CD16/CD56+) and naive, unprimed CD(8+)-cells (CD45RA+, CD45RO-) which may be transported to injured muscles.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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