Leukocyte mitochondria alterations after aerobic exercise in trained human subjects


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
BASIC SCIENCES: Original Investigations

HSU, T-G., K-M. HSU, C-W. KONG, F-J. LU, H. CHENG, and K. TSAI. Leukocyte mitochondria alterations after aerobic exercise in trained human subjects. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 34, No. 3, pp. 438–442, 2002. Exercise is associated with intensity-dependent immune disturbances. Leukocyte mitochondrial alterations and apoptosis may contribute to this phenomenon.

Purpose: To investigate the effects of different intensities of aerobic exercise (AE) on leukocyte mitochondrial transmembrane potential (MTP) and the propensity of apoptosis.

Methods: Blood samples were collected from 12 subjects who performed AE for 3 consecutive days (35% maximal oxygen consumption (V̇O2max)). Leukocyte MTP and apoptosis were measured by flow cytometry. The subjects performed two additional sessions of AE of higher intensities (60% and 85% V̇O2max) with an intervening 4-wk washout period. The measurements were repeated during each session.

Results: Leukocyte MTP declined during daily, repetitive AE at an intensity of 60% and 85% V̇O2max. Similar changes were not found during a more moderate AE (35% V̇O2max). Leukocytes increased their propensity of apoptosis a period (3-5 d) after the start of the AE.

Conclusion: High-intensity AE has accumulative effects on the mitochondrial energization status and vitality of peripheral blood leukocytes. Leukocyte MTP is a potentially applicable indicator for monitoring immune distress due to overtraining.

Author Information

Institute of Sports Science, Taipei Physical Education College, Taipei, TAIWAN; Oxidative Stress Clinical Research Group, Section of Critical Care, Department of Medicine, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, and National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine, Taipei, TAIWAN; Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, TAIWAN

Submitted for publication February 2001.

Accepted for publication June 2001.

©2002The American College of Sports Medicine