Antioxidants attenuate the plasma cytokine response to exercise in humans

  • Vassilakopoulos T
  • Karatza M
  • Katsaounou P
 et al. 
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Exercise increases plasma TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, and IL-6, yet the stimuli and sources of TNF-alpha and IL-1beta remain largely unknown. We tested the role of oxidative stress and the potential contribution of monocytes in this cytokine (especially IL-1beta) response in previously untrained individuals. Six healthy nonathletes performed two 45-min bicycle exercise sessions at 70% of Vo(2 max) before and after a combination of antioxidants (vitamins E, A, and C for 60 days; allopurinol for 15 days; and N-acetylcysteine for 3 days). Blood was drawn at baseline, end-exercise, and 30 and 120 min postexercise. Plasma cytokines were determined by ELISA and monocyte intracellular cytokine level by flow cytometry. Before antioxidants, TNF-alpha increased by 60%, IL-1beta by threefold, and IL-6 by sixfold secondary to exercise (P < 0.05). After antioxidants, plasma IL-1beta became undetectable, the TNF-alpha response to exercise was abolished, and the IL-6 response was significantly blunted (P < 0.05). Exercise did not increase the percentage of monocytes producing the cytokines or their mean fluorescence intensity. We conclude that in untrained humans oxidative stress is a major stimulus for exercise-induced cytokine production and that monocytes play no role in this process.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Acetylcysteine/pharmacology
  • Adult
  • Allopurinol/pharmacology
  • Antimetabolites/pharmacology
  • Antioxidants/*pharmacology
  • Ascorbic Acid/pharmacology
  • Creatine Kinase/blood
  • Cytokines/*blood
  • Exercise/*physiology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Free Radical Scavengers/pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1/biosynthesis
  • Male
  • Monocytes/metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species/blood
  • Vitamin A/pharmacology
  • Vitamin E/pharmacology

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  • T Vassilakopoulos

  • M H Karatza

  • P Katsaounou

  • A Kollintza

  • S Zakynthinos

  • C Roussos

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