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.