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Effect of intense wrestling exercise on leucocytes and adhesion molecules in adolescent boys


Background: In adults, exercise is a powerful and natural stimulator of immune cells and adhesion molecules. Far less is known about exercise responses during childhood and adolescence and whether or not exercise in “real life” activities of healthy adolescents influences immune responses.

Objective: To determine if strenuous exercise leads to significant changes in leucocyte number and adhesion molecule expression in adolescent boys.

Methods: Eleven healthy, high school boys, aged 14–18.5 years, performed a single, typical, 1.5 hour wrestling practice session. Blood was sampled before and after the session. Flow cytometry was used to evaluate changes in immune responses.

Results: The exercise led to significant (p<0.05) and robust increases in granulocytes, monocytes, and all lymphocyte subpopulations. The most significant changes were observed for natural killer cells (p<0.0005). The number of T cytotoxic and T helper cells expressing CD62L increased significantly (p<0.002 and p<0.0005 respectively), as did the number of T cytotoxic and T helper cells not expressing CD62L (p<0.003 and p<0.009 respectively). The density of CD62L on lymphocytes decreased significantly with exercise (p<0.0005), whereas CD11a (p<0.01) and CD54 (p<0.01) increased.

Conclusions: The data show that an intense wrestling bout in adolescent boys leads to profound stimulation of the immune system. The role of these common changes in overall immune status and the development of the immune and haemopoietic systems has yet to be determined.

  • adolescence
  • wrestling
  • fitness
  • white blood cells
  • adhesion molecules
  • BMI, body mass index
  • ICAM-1, intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (CD54)
  • LFA-1, leucocyte function associated antigen-1 (CD11a)

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