Int J Sports Med 1995; 16(5): 329-333
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-973014

© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Immune Function in Athletes Versus Nonathletes

D. C. Nieman, D. Brendle, D. A. Henson, J. Suttles, V. D. Cook, B. J. Warren, D. E. Butterworth, O. R. Fagoaga, S. L. Nehlsen-Cannarella
  • Departments of Health, Leisure, and Exercise Science; Biology; Appalachian State University; Department of Biochemistry, James H. Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Immunology Center, Loma Linda University Medical Center
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09. März 2007 (online)

The purpose of this study was to compare natural killer cell cytotoxic activity (NKCA) and Con A-induced lymphocyte proliferation (T cell function) in athletes versus nonathletes, with measurement of natural killer (NK) and T cells to allow a comparison on a "per-cell" adjusted basis. Eighteen young male endurance athletes (10 runners and 8 cyclists) with a mean VO2max of 70.7 ± 1.3 ml · kg-1 · min-1 and 6.6 ± 0.8 years of competitive experience were compared with 11 nonathletic male adults (47.6 ± 3.1 ml · kg-1 · min-1). Concentrations of circulating leukocyte and lymphocyte subsets, including NK and T cells, were not significantly different between groups. NKCA and T cell function also did not differ between groups, whether expressed unadjusted or adjusted on a per-cell basis. For all subjects combined, both NKCA and T cell function were unrelated to VO2max (r = 0.005, p = 0.98; r = 0.007, p = 0.97, respectively). These data do not support the contention that immune function, as measured in this study, is altered in endurance athletes.