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Effects of Exercise on Stress-induced Attenuation of Vaccination Responses in Mice


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: August 2019 - Volume 51 - Issue 8 - p 1635–1641
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001971

Studies suggest that exercise can improve vaccination responses in humans. Chronic stress can lead to immunosuppression, and there may be a role for exercise in augmenting immune responses.

Purpose To investigate the effects of acute eccentric exercise (ECC) and voluntary wheel exercise training (VWR) on antibody and cell-mediated immune responses to vaccination in chronically stressed mice. We hypothesized that both ECC and VWR would attenuate chronic stress-induced reductions in vaccination responses.

Methods Mice were randomized into four groups: control (CON), stress (S)-ECC, S-VWR, and S-sedentary (SED). Stressed groups received chronic restraint stress for 6 h·d−1, 5 d·wk−1 for 3 wk. After the first week of stress, S-ECC were exercised at 17 m·min−1 speed at −20% grade for 45 min on a treadmill and then intramuscularly injected with 100 μg of ovalbumin (OVA) and 200 μg of alum adjuvant. All other groups were also vaccinated at this time. Stress-VWR mice voluntarily ran on a wheel for the entire experiment. Plasma was collected before, and at 1, 2, and 4 wk postvaccination. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was performed to analyze anti-OVA IgG and IgM antibodies. After 3 wk of chronic stress, all mice were injected with OVA into the ear to determine the delayed-type hypersensitivity.

Results We found that chronic restraint stress significantly reduced body weight and caused adrenal hypertrophy. We also found both S-ECC and S-VWR groups had significantly elevated anti-OVA IgG (P < 0.05), whereas no significant differences between the two exercise groups. Neither S-ECC nor S-VWR altered anti-OVA IgM or delayed-type hypersensitivity responses compared with S-SED group.

Conclusions Acute eccentric exercise and voluntary exercise training alleviated the chronic stress-induced anti-OVA IgG reductions in vaccination responses.

1Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL;

2Integrative Immunology and Behavior Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL;

3School of Health Studies, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN;

4Interdisciplinary Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL;

5Division of Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL; and

6Carle-Illinois College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL

Address for correspondence: Jeffrey A. Woods, Ph.D., F.A.C.S.M., 1008B Khan Annex/Huff Hall, 1204 S. 6th St, Champaign, IL 61820; E-mail:

Submitted for publication October 2018.

Accepted for publication February 2019.

Online date: March 4, 2019

© 2019 American College of Sports Medicine