The most effective way of avoiding influenza is through influenza vaccination. However, the vaccine is ineffective in about 25% of the older population. Immunosenescence with advancing age results in inadequate protection from disease because of ineffective responses to vaccination. Recently, a number of strategies have been tested to improve the efficacy of a vaccine in older adults. An acute bout of moderate aerobic exercise may increase the efficacy of the vaccine in young individuals, but there are limited efficacy data in older adults who would benefit most.
Purpose: This study sought to evaluate whether acute moderate-intensity endurance exercise immediately before influenza vaccination would increase the efficacy of the vaccine.
Methods: Fifty-nine healthy volunteers between 55 and 75 yr of age were randomly allocated to an exercise or control group. Antibody titers were measured at baseline before exercise and 4 wk after vaccination. C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) were measured at 24 and 48 h after vaccination.
Results: Delta CRP and IL-6 at 24 and 48 h were significantly higher after vaccination as compared to the sham injection. There were no differences in the levels of antibody titers against the H3N2 influenza strain between groups. However, women in the exercise group had a significantly higher antibody response against the H1N1 influenza strain as compared to the men, probably because of lower prevaccine titers. There were no significant differences in seroprotection between groups.
Conclusions: Acute moderate aerobic exercise was not immunostimulatory in healthy older men but may serve as a vaccine adjuvant in older women.