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The Pro- and Anti-Inflammatory Cytokine Response to Exercise in Adolescent Swimmers.



Whether or not individuals with allergy and asthma experience different patterns of change in the balance of both pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators with acute exercise is not known. We hypothesized that adolescent swimmers with a clinical diagnosis of respiratory allergy would have an exaggerated proinflammatory response to laboratory exercise relative to a no-allergy comparison group.


Adolescent swimmers (17 with clinical symptoms of respiratory allergy (CSRA) and 17 in comparison group) completed the American Thoracic Society (ATS) exercise challenge on cycle ergometer. Blood was collected at baseline and immediately post-exercise. All study tests were conducted at the Institute for Clinical Translational Science at the University of California, Irvine. Circulating cytokines, growth factors, and adhesion molecules were measured using ELISAs including transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-4 (IL-4), IL-6, IL-10, P-selectin, and immunoglobulin E (IgE).


There was a trend toward higher resting levels of TNF-α in the CSRA group (P = 0.076). Exercise induced a significant increase in P-selectin and TGF-β1 in both groups. TNF-α increased significantly (17%) in the comparison group (pre = 0.6, post = 0.7 pg/mL), but not in the CSRA group. IL-6 increased significantly in the CSRA group (pre = 0.7, post = 0.8 pg/mL), but not in the comparison group. Circulating levels of IL-4 and IL-10 were not altered immediately post-exercise in either group.


A short bout of intense exercise increased inflammatory growth factors and adhesion molecules, namely TGF-β1 and P-selectin, both of which are known to be involved in allergic airway diseases. Differences in resting IL-6 and TNF-α and exercise alterations in these cytokines may also contribute to allergic disease in adolescent elite swimmers.

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