Decreased salivary immunoglobulin A secretion rate after intense interval exercise in elite kayakers

L T Mackinnon, E Ginn, G J Seymour
European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology 1993, 67 (2): 180-4
Endurance athletes have been shown to suffer a high incidence of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI; e.g. colds, sore throat) during intense training and after competition. Previous studies have shown that concentrations of secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA), the major effector of host defense against micro-organisms causing URTI, decrease after intense endurance exercise. Many athletes perform intense interval exercise as part of their normal training. The purpose of this study was to determine whether salivary IgA concentrations also decrease after intense interval exercise during the normal training regime in elite athletes. Timed saliva samples were obtained from eight elite male kayakers immediately before and after three on-water training sessions during a 3-week period. The concentrations of IgA, IgG and IgM were determined separately by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and secretion rates calculated for each Ig. The IgA secretion rate (micrograms.min-1) decreased 27%-38% after all three training sessions (P = 0.007); the largest decrease (38%) was noted after the most intense session at the end of an especially intense week of training. The IgA concentration relative to total protein ( protein-1) was significantly lower (P < 0.05) on this training day compared with the other 2 days. Concentrations and secretion rates of IgG and IgM did not change after exercise, indicating a specific effect on IgA. These data would suggest that, in elite athletes, IgA concentration and secretion rate are reduced by intense interval exercise, and that exercise-induced changes in IgA output may be one mechanism contributing to URTI in elite athletes.

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