Int J Sports Med 1991; 12: S9-S15
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-1024743
© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Immunologic Mediators as Parameters of the Reaction to Strenuous Exercise

H. Northoff1 , A. Berg2
  • 1DRK-Blutspendezentrale and Dept. of Transfusion Medicine, University of Ulm, Germany
  • 2Dept. of Physical Performance Medicine, University of Freiburg, Germany
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Publication History

Publication Date:
14 March 2008 (online)


Both the unspecific and the specific branch of the immune system are triggered and governed by contact and by a set of cytokines, including interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor (TNF). These mediators, which are produced by activated macrophages and other cells, have also multiple (pleiotropic) effects on different cells and organs. While TNF and IL-1 have strongly proinflammatory effects and seem to play a critical role in clinical situations such as septic shock, IL-6 has more restorative effects by being the main inducer of the acute phase response of the liver. The monokines also induce fever and release of ACTH in the brain. Strenuous exercise leads to a significant elevation of cytokines in the serum thereby eliciting an acute phase response. Analysis of systemic cytokines in the serum of marathon runners by the 7TD1 cell line assay revealed that the observed activity is very likely IL-6.