Purpose: The purpose of this controlled trial was to assess the effect of an approximately 3-wk intrahospital exercise intervention performed during inpatient hospitalization for pediatric allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) on (i) immune cell recovery and (ii) body composition.
Methods: Immune (i.e., blood counts of leukocytes, monocytes, lymphocytes, and lymphocyte subpopulations) and anthropometric variables (i.e., body mass, body mass index, and estimated fat-free mass) were measured before and after (+15 and 30 d) HSCT. Seven children (5 boys and 2 girls; age (mean ± SD) = 8 ± 4 yr) with high-risk cancer performed an individualized training program (aerobic + resistance exercises) in their isolated hospital rooms. We also assessed a control group (n = 13; 9 boys and 4 girls; age = 7 ± 3 yr) with similar medical conditions and following the same transplant protocol.
Results: In both groups, the dendritic cell count decreased from pre-HSCT to +15 d post-HSCT and thereafter (up to +30 d) remained stabile; however, the posttransplant decrease was more abrupt in the control group than that in the intervention group (−87% vs −63%, respectively, from pre-HSCT to +15 d). The rest of the immune cell parameters measured showed a similar response from pre-HSCT to post-HSCT in both groups. We found a significant effect of the interaction group × time for all anthropometric variables (weight, body mass index, body fat, and fat-free mass), indicating an increase over the hospitalization period only in the intervention group, for example, body mass increased from 32.9 ± 18.7 kg pre-HSCT to 35.4 ± 18.6 kg at +30 d in the intervention group versus a decrease from 30.2 ± 16.6 to 29.3 ± 6.3 kg in the control group.
Conclusion: Our findings support the feasibility of exercise training interventions during hospitalization, including immunocompromised children.