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A Journal on Sports Medicine

Official Journal of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation
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Medicina dello Sport 2005 September;58(3):203-6


language: Italian

Modifications of some immune parameters in a group of amateur athletes playing marathon and ultra-marathon

Francavilla G., Tripoli S., Amato S., Tolomeo M., Cristian Francavilla V.

Divisione di Dermatologia, Divisione di Ematologia con TMO, Ospedale Civico Benfratelli, Palermo, Università degli Studi di Palermo, Cattedra di Medicina dello Sport, Palermo


The function of the Immune System is that to distinguish “self” from “not-self”. The immune answer includes a “specific” phase and a “not specific” phase.
The phagocytes, as macrophages, granulocytes and natural killer cells constitute a successful defense against viral infections and some types of cancer. The Specific System is made by Ly-T and Ly-B: the first are divided into Ly-T helper and Ly-T suppressor; the second differentiates into Plasmacytes.
The IgA, present into the nasal mucosa and the bronchial secretion, represent an early defense, able to block virus penetration.
The data of the research show that a moderate exercise can limit the immune depression. It has been supposed that a moderate phisic and regular training can maintain “well-trained” the immune system by potentiating the immune. Ten amateur runners, 8 males and 2 females, who have been practicing a run of resistence, have been selected and they have been monitorated , through haematic sample and ergometric tests for a period of 8 months. The obtained values have been compared to those of the group of control.No significant modifications have been observed in the lymphocyte’s underpopulations T-helper and T cytotoxic-suppressor and the relationship CD4/CD8 seemed the same to the control group. Every athlete shows, on the contrary, levels of NK cells, CD3-CD16+CD56+, superior as regard as the control group.
The athlets have been reconsidered after 7 days and no particular modifications have been observed in the lymphocytes T helper and T cytotoxic-suppressor, while the levels of the NK, CD3-CD16+CD56+ cells, have showed a sensible reduction as regard the beginning levels. The obtained data showed in every athlets a medium percentage of NK cells superior as regard to the control group; the same value is strictly related to the clinic date, which shows to the anamnesis the absence of the flu syndromes in the last 7 years. The actual hypothesis is about the relationship between the nervous system and the immune system and is confirmed by the presence on the NK cells of an high concentration of the β-adrenergic, principally of the subtype β-2. There is a relationship between the aerobic regular training and increasing of NK that is stable during the time because phisic-training can develop a stable increasing of this lymphocytes’s underpopulation, producing some lasting benefic effects the immune system.

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