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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 May;113(5):1343-52. doi: 10.1007/s00421-012-2554-y. Epub 2012 Dec 2.

Moderate exercise increases the metabolism and immune function of lymphocytes in rats.

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Department of Physical Education, Federal University of Maranhao, Av. dos Portugueses, S/N, São Luís, MA CEP 65085-580, Brazil.


Exercise modulates both glucose and glutamine metabolism which influences lymphocyte function. We investigated the influence of chronic moderate exercise on glucose and glutamine metabolism in lymphocytes, the associated influence on proliferation, and cytokine and immunoglobulin production. Male Wistar rats (8 weeks old) were placed in an exercise training group (N = 15, 1 h day(-1) at 60 % VO₂max, 5 days week(-1)) for 8 weeks of exercise, or a sedentary control group. Twenty-four hours following the final training session, lymphocytes were separated, and the incorporation of [U-14C]-glucose, [U-14C]-glutamine, and [2-14C]-thymidine from the supernatant was measured. The activity of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, hexokinase, and glutaminase was measured. Lymphocytes were stimulated with ConA and LPS and incubated with the Mycobacterium bovis bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine and plasma IgG and IgE were measured. Glutamine metabolism increased in both T and B lymphocytes in the trained group. In the trained group, proliferative capacity increased T lymphocytes under ConA stimulation, and increased B lymphocytes with LPS. There was a significant increase in IL-2 production and decrease in IL-4 in the trained group compared with sedentary controls. IL-2R and TNFR increased in trained rats while IL-4R decreased and were more pronounced in T lymphocytes compared with B lymphocytes. In both lymphocyte subsets, exercise training significantly increased the expression of CD54+ and CD30+ cell markers. Exercise training increased plasma IgG compared with the sedentary group. In conclusion, moderate exercise training improves immune function and metabolism in T and B lymphocytes, reflecting an increased ability to respond to immune challenges.

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