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Original articles  Immunology


The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2002 Settembre;42(3):368-78

lingua: Inglese

Exercise under hot conditions: a major threat to the immune response?

Shephard R. J.

From the Facul­ty of Phys­i­cal Edu­ca­tion and ­Health and Depart­ment of Pub­lic ­Health Sci­enc­es Uni­ver­sity of Toron­to, Toron­to, Can­a­da Defence and Civ­il Insti­tute of Envi­ron­men­tal Med­i­cine Toron­to, Can­a­da


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It ­seems like­ly ­that the dis­tur­banc­es of ­immune ­response ­induced by pro­longed com­pet­i­tive exer­cise are exac­er­bat­ed if ath­letes ­also ­face the ­stress of hot envi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions. We ­have inves­ti­gat­ed ­this ques­tion by manip­u­lat­ing the exer­cise-­induced increas­es of ­body tem­per­a­ture in a cli­mat­ic cham­ber and by sub­mer­sion of exer­cis­ers in a ­large ­water-­bath. Hot con­di­tions ­increase the ­stress of a giv­en ­bout of exer­cise, as ­assessed by per­son­al per­cep­tions, objec­tive (­heart ­rate var­i­abil­ity) meas­ures of auto­nom­ic ­nerve bal­ance, and the secre­tion of “­stress” hor­mones, ­with a par­allel ­increase in ­effects ­upon crit­i­cal lym­pho­cyte sub­sets. Chang­es in the ­immune ­response ­show sub­stan­tial cor­re­la­tions ­with plas­ma con­cen­tra­tions not ­only of epi­neph­rine (­which mod­ulates the adhe­sive­ness of periph­er­al­ly seques­tered lym­pho­cytes), but ­also ­with nor­epi­neph­rine. The lat­ter hor­mone may mobi­lize leu­ko­cytes ­from the ­spleen and ­lymph ­glands, or it may act by increas­ing car­diac out­put and ­thus intra­vas­cu­lar ­shear forc­es. Giv­en the cumu­la­tive ­impact of var­i­ous envi­ron­men­tal stres­sors ­upon the ­immune ­system, eve­ry ­effort ­should be ­made to min­i­mize the ­athlete’s expo­sure to stress­es oth­er ­than the exer­cise to be per­formed. In ­some cir­cum­stanc­es, the use of med­i­ca­tions to ­reduce the over­all ­stress ­response may ­also be war­rant­ed.

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