Int J Sports Med 2011; 32(5): 393-398
DOI: 10.1055/s-0031-1271674

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Virus Activation and Immune Function During Intense Training in Rugby Football Players

R. Yamauchi1 , K. Shimizu2 , F. Kimura1 , M. Takemura1 , K. Suzuki3 , 5 , T. Akama2 , I. Kono1 , T. Akimoto4 , 5
  • 1University of Tsukuba, Sports Medicine, Tsukuba, Japan
  • 2Waseda University, Faculty of Sport Sciences, Tokorozawa, Japan
  • 3Waseda University, Human Science, Tokorozawa, Japan
  • 4The University of Tokyo, Laboratory of Regenerative Medical Engineering, Center for Disease Biology and Integrative Medicine Graduate School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan
  • 5Waseda University, Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Consolidated Research Institute for Advanced Science and Medical care, Tokyo, Japan
Further Information

Publication History

accepted after revision December 20, 2010

Publication Date:
04 March 2011 (online)


Epidemiological studies suggest that highly trained athletes are more susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) compared with the general population. Upper respiratory symptoms (URS) often appear as either primary invasion of pathogenic organisms and/or reactivation of latent viruses such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between EBV reactivation and the appearance of URS during intensive training in collegiate rugby football players. We evaluated EBV-DNA expression in saliva and examined the relationship between onset of URS and daily changes in EBV-DNA as well as secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA) levels among 32 male collegiate rugby football players during a 1-month training camp. The EBV-DNA expression tended to be higher in subjects who exhibited sore throat (p=0.07) and cough (p=0.18) than that of those who had no symptoms, although their differences were not significant. The SIgA level was significantly lower 1 day before the EBV-DNA expression (p<0.05). The number of URS increased along with the EBV-DNA expression and decrease of SIgA levels. These results suggest that the appearance of URS is associated with reactivation of EBV and reduction of SIgA during training.


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Dr. Takayuki Akimoto

The University of Tokyo

Laboratory of Regenerative

Medical Engineering

Center for Disease Biology and

Integrative Medicine Graduate

School of Medicine

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