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Cold exposure: human immune responses and intracellular cytokine expression


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: December 2002 - Volume 34 - Issue 12 - p 2013-2020
Basic Sciences: Symposium

CASTELLANI, J. W., I. K. M. BRENNER, and S. G. RHIND. Cold exposure: human immune responses and intracellular cytokine expression. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 34, No. 12, pp. 2013–2020, 2002. It is commonly believed that exposure to cold environmental temperatures depresses immune function and increases the risk for infection. This review paper will 1) present an overview of human physiological responses to cold exposure, 2) present the human studies examining the effects of cold exposure on immune responses, and 3) summarize recent experiments from our laboratories examining the effects of exercise and fatigue on immune responses during subsequent cold exposure. Based on the review of the literature, there is no support for the concept that cold exposure depresses immune function.

U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, MA; Trent University, Peterborough, ON, CANADA; and Defense and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine, Toronto, ON, CANADA

Address for correspondence: John W. Castellani, Ph.D., USARIEM, Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division, 42 Kansas Street, Natick, MA 01760-5007; E-mail:

Submitted for publication February 2002.

Accepted for publication July 2002.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.