Objective: Athletes undergoing weight reduction are recognized as being more prone to infection. Few studies exist for athletes, however, on the weight reduction-mediated changes in neutrophil function and related activities such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) production capability, phagocytic activity (PA) and serum opsonic activity (SOA).
Methods: Sixteen female university judoists were examined in the early morning of the first day (pre-values) and the last day (post-values) of a 20-day pre-competition training period. Of the 16 subjects, 8 needed to reduce weight (WR group), and the other 8 did not (control group). The parameters assessed were the neutrophil count, serum immunoglobulins and complements, myogenic enzymes, ROS production capability, PA and SOA.
Results: Comparing the post- with the pre-values, ROS production significantly increased in both groups (p<0.01 for both); PA significantly decreased in the WR group (p<0.05), though it decreased in the control group even if it was not significant; and SOA significantly increased in the WR group (p<0.05), though it showed no significant change in the WR group.
Conclusions: The changes in the WR group were most probably a direct consequence of the weight reduction regimen coupled with the exercise regimen, suggesting that neutrophil parameters (ROS production, PA and SOA) had tended to deviate from their typical compensatory changesto maintain immune system homeostasis.
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