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Effect of exercise on in vitro immune function: a 12-month randomized, controlled trial among postmenopausal women.

Author(s): Campbell PT, Wener MH, Sorensen B, Wood B, Chen-Levy Z, Potter JD, McTiernan A, Ulrich CM

Affiliation(s): Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Cancer Prevention Program, 1100 Fairview Ave. N, M4-B402, Seattle, WA 98109-1024. nulrich@fhcrc.org).

Publication date & source: 2008-06, J Appl Physiol., 104(6):1648-55. Epub 2008 Apr 10.

Cross-sectional studies suggest that moderate physical activity is associated with enhanced resting immune function; however, few randomized controlled trials have investigated this link. We investigated the effect of 12-mo aerobic exercise, relative to stretching control, on in vitro immune function in a randomized, controlled trial of 115 postmenopausal, overweight, or obese sedentary women, aged 50-75 yr. The exercise goal was >/=45 min/day, 5 days/wk. Control women participated in 1 day/wk stretching classes. Immune markers (natural killer cell cytotoxicity, T-lymphocyte proliferation, immune cell counts and phenotypes, and serum immunoglobulins) were assessed at baseline, 3 mo, and 12 mo under strict blood-draw criteria. General estimation equations evaluated intervention effects at 3 and 12 mo, controlling for baseline. Of the 115 women who began the trial, blood samples were available from 109 at 3 mo (95%) and 108 at 12 mo (94%). From baseline to 12 mo, the exercise group participated in 87% of the prescribed physical activity minutes per week and increased maximal O(2) uptake by 13.8%; controls experienced no change in fitness. The main outcomes, natural killer cell cytotoxicity and T-lymphocyte proliferation, did not differ between groups at 3 and 12 mo. Secondary outcome and subgroup (e.g., stratification by baseline categories of body mass index, immune status, C-reactive protein, and age) analyses did not show any clear patterns of association. This 12-mo randomized, controlled trial showed no effect of aerobic exercise on in vitro immune function, despite excellent retention, high adherence, and demonstrable efficacy of the exercise intervention.

Page last updated: 2008-06-22

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