Cytokine Responses at High Altitude: Effects of Exercise and Antioxidants at 4300 m

HAGOBIAN, TODD A.1,2; JACOBS, KEVIN A.1,3; SUBUDHI, ANDREW W.1,4; FATTOR, JILL A.3; ROCK, PAUL B.5; MUZA, STEPHEN R.6; FULCO, CHARLES S.6; BRAUN, BARRY2; GREDIAGIN, ANN6; MAZZEO, ROBERT S.7; CYMERMAN, ALLEN6; FRIEDLANDER, ANNE L.1

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February 2006 - Volume 38 - Issue 2 - pp 276-285
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000188577.63910.51
BASIC SCIENCES: Original Investigations

Purpose: This study tested the hypothesis that antioxidant supplementation would attenuate plasma cytokine (IL-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α), and C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations at rest and in response to exercise at 4300-m elevation.

Methods: A total of 17 recreationally trained men were matched and assigned to an antioxidant (N = 9) or placebo (N = 8) group in a double-blinded fashion. At sea level (SL), energy expenditure was controlled and subjects were weight stable. Then, 3 wk before and throughout high altitude (HA), an antioxidant supplement (10,000 IU β-carotene, 200 IU α-tocopherol acetate, 250 mg ascorbic acid, 50 μg selenium, 15 mg zinc) or placebo was given twice daily. At HA, energy expenditure increased approximately 750 kcal·d−1 and energy intake decreased approximately 550 kcal·d−1, resulting in a caloric deficit of approximately 1200-1500 kcal·d−1. At SL and HA day 1 (HA1) and day HA13, subjects exercised at 55% of V̇O2peak until they expended approximately 1500 kcal. Blood samples were taken at rest, end of exercise, and 2, 4, and 20 h after exercise.

Results: No differences were seen between groups in plasma IL-6, CRP, or TNF-α at rest or in response to exercise. For both groups, plasma IL-6 concentration was significantly higher at the end of exercise, 2, 4, and 20 h after exercise at HA1 compared with SL and HA13. Plasma CRP concentration was significantly elevated 20 h postexercise for both groups on HA1 compared to SL and HA13. TNF-α did not differ at rest or in response to exercise.

Conclusion: Plasma IL-6 and CRP concentrations were elevated following exercise at high altitude on day 1, and antioxidant supplementation did not attenuate the rise in plasma IL-6 and CRP concentrations associated with hypoxia, exercise, and caloric deficit.

1Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA; 2University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA; 3University of California, Berkeley, CA; 4University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, CO; 5Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, Tulsa, OK; 6US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, MA; and 7University of Colorado, Boulder, CO

Address for correspondence: Anne L. Friedlander, GRECC, 182B, Building MB2B, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, 3801 Miranda Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94304-1290; E-mail: friedlan@stanford.edu.

Submitted for publication May 2005.

Accepted for publication August 2005.

©2006The American College of Sports Medicine