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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2012 Mar;112(6):990-1000. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01027.2010. Epub 2011 Dec 29.

Role of vitamin C and E supplementation on IL-6 in response to training.

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The Centre of Inflammation and Metabolism, Department of Infectious Diseases, and Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre, Rigshospitalet, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Vitamin C and E supplementation has been shown to attenuate the acute exercise-induced increase in plasma interleukin-6 (IL-6) concentration. Here, we studied the effect of antioxidant vitamins on the regulation of IL-6 expression in muscle and the circulation in response to acute exercise before and after high-intensity endurance exercise training. Twenty-one young healthy men were allocated into either a vitamin (VT; vitamin C and E, n = 11) or a placebo (PL, n = 10) group. A 1-h acute bicycling exercise trial at 65% of maximal power output was performed before and after 12 wk of progressive endurance exercise training. In response to training, the acute exercise-induced IL-6 response was attenuated in PL (P < 0.02), but not in VT (P = 0.82). However, no clear difference between groups was observed (group × training: P = 0.13). Endurance exercise training also attenuated the acute exercise-induced increase in muscle-IL-6 mRNA in both groups. Oxidative stress, assessed by plasma protein carbonyls concentration, was overall higher in the VT compared with the PL group (group effect: P < 0.005). This was accompanied by a general increase in skeletal muscle mRNA expression of antioxidative enzymes, including catalase, copper-zinc superoxide dismutase, and glutathione peroxidase 1 mRNA expression in the VT group. However, skeletal muscle protein content of catalase, copper-zinc superoxide dismutase, or glutathione peroxidase 1 was not affected by training or supplementation. In conclusion, our results indicate that, although vitamin C and E supplementation may attenuate exercise-induced increases in plasma IL-6 there is no clear additive effect when combined with endurance training.

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