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Brain Behav Immun. 2010 Jan;24(1):153-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2009.09.011. Epub 2009 Sep 23.

Repeated bouts of aerobic exercise enhance regulatory T cell responses in a murine asthma model.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294-0005, USA.


We have reported previously that moderate intensity aerobic exercise training attenuates airway inflammation in a murine asthma model. Recent studies implicate regulatory T (Treg) cells in decreasing asthma-related airway inflammation; as such, the current study examined the effect of exercise on Treg cell function in a murine asthma model. Mice were sensitized with ovalbumin (OVA) prior to the start of exercise training at a moderate intensity 3x/week for 4weeks; exercise was performed as treadmill running (13.5m/min, 0% grade). Mice were OVA challenged repeatedly throughout the exercise protocol. At protocol completion, mice were analyzed for changes in the number and suppressive function of CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) cells isolated from lungs, mediastinal lymph nodes, and spleens. Results show that exercise increased significantly the number of Foxp3(+) cells within the lungs and mediastinal lymph nodes, but not the spleens, of OVA-treated mice as compared with sedentary controls. Exercise also enhanced the suppression function of CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) Treg cells derived from OVA-treated mice as compared with sedentary controls. Specifically, Treg cells from exercised, OVA-treated mice more effectively suppressed CD4(+)CD25(-) cell proliferation and Th2 cytokine production in vitro. Enhanced suppression was associated with increased protein levels of TGF-beta and lesser amounts of IL-10 and IL-17; however, blocking TGF-beta had no effect on suppressive functions. These data demonstrate that exercise-mediated increases in Treg cell function may play a role in the attenuation of airway inflammation. Further, these results indicate that moderate intensity aerobic exercise training may alter the Treg cell function within the asthmatic airway.

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