Acute increases in interleukin (IL)-6 following prolonged exercise are associated with the induction of a transient anti-inflammatory state (e.g., increases in IL-10) that is partly responsible for the health benefits of regular exercise. The purposes of this study were to investigate the IL-6-related inflammatory response to high-intensity interval exercise (HIIE) and to determine the impact of exercise intensity and volume on this response. Ten participants (5 males and 5 females) completed 3 exercise bouts of contrasting intensity and volume (LOW, MOD, and HIGH). The HIGH protocol was based upon standard HIIE protocols, while theMODandLOWprotocols were designed to enable a comparison of exercise intensity and volume with a fixed duration. Inflammatory cytokine concentrations were measured in plasma (IL-6, IL-10) and also determined the level of gene expression (IL-6, IL-10, and IL-4R) in peripheral blood. The plasma IL-6 response to exercise (reported as fold changes) was significantly greater in HIGH (2.70 ± 1.51) than LOW (1.40 ± 0.32) (P = 0.04) and was also positively correlated to the mean exercise oxygen uptake (r = 0.54, P < 0.01). However, there was no change in anti-inflammatory IL-10 or IL-4R responses in plasma or at the level of gene expression. HIIE caused a significant increase in IL-6 and was greater than that seen in low-intensity exercise of the same duration. The increases in IL-6 were relatively small in magnitude, and appear to have been insufficient to induce the acute systemic anti-inflammatory effects, which are evident following longer duration exercise.
Cullen, T., Thomas, A. W., Webb, R., & Hughes, M. G. (2016). Interleukin-6 and associated cytokine responses to an acute bout of high-intensity interval exercise: The effect of exercise intensity and volume. Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, 41(8), 803–808. https://doi.org/10.1139/apnm-2015-0640