This study analyzed the immunological responses of elderly subjects after 12 weeks of resistance training using an exercise machine (20-40% of 1RM) and each subject's body weight with 10 minutes of endurance training. The primary finding of our investigation was that exercise training, which yielded significant strength improvements, increased CD28-expressing CD8+ cells and CD80-expressing CD14+ cells in elderly subjects. These results suggest that regular resistance with a small amount of endurance exercise can bolster T-cell-mediated immunity in elderly people.
In fact, TLR-4 is related to mediation of the cytokine production and T-cell activation (36). Some investigators have reported that age does not influence TLR-4 expression (7,34). Others showed that it was decreased with age (30). Stewart et al. (34) reported that 12 weeks of exercise training reduced TLR-4 expression in elderly subjects, suggesting that downregulation of TLR-4 with exercise training might help explain the anti-inflammatory effects of exercise. In this study, however, TLR-4-expressing CD14 cells showed no significant change in elderly people. In the previous study of Stewart et al. (34), elderly subjects performed 50% 1RM of resistance training and 60-70 HR of endurance training (20 minutes) for 3 times per week for 12 weeks. Therefore, the intensity and duration of exercise used for this study might be inadequate to alter the expression of TLR-4 in elderly people. The TLRs control the generation of T-cell activation through induction of costimulatory molecules such as CD80. Actually, van Duin et al. (39) reported that CD80 expression on monocytes in response to TLR stimulation was lower in elderly people than in young people. Results of this study show that CD80-expressing CD14 cells were increased significantly after exercise training in elderly people. Although TLR-4 did not change after exercise training, TLR functions such as modulation of CD80 expression might be upregulated by exercise training. Therefore, exercise training might improve monocyte function in elderly people.
This study has the following study limitations: male and female subjects were combined in the analysis. Moreover, the smaller sample size does not allow appropriate analysis of gender effects. Although the influence of gender differences on CD28, TLRs and CD80 in response to exercise in elderly people is unclear, previous reports of studies have described that no significant gender difference was found in the number of CD4+ and CD8+ cells in response to active (mental arithmetic) and passive (cold pressor) stresses (40). Future studies must examine the influence of gender difference on CD28-expressing T cells and CD80 and TLR-expressing monocytes in light-moderate exercise training in elderly people. Second, no control subjects with only resistance exercise or endurance exercise participated in this study. The exercise program in this study included endurance exercise, although this program included mainly resistance exercise. Future studies must compare the effects of resistance exercise, endurance exercise, and combined exercise (resistance and endurance) on immune parameters in elderly subjects.
We thank all participants in this study, Dr. Takayuki Akimoto (Laboratory of Regenerative Medical Engineering, Center for Disease Biology and Integrative Medicine Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo), and Dr. Fuminori Kimura (Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba) for critical comments. This study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Science Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (19300228 to I. K.). The authors have no conflict of interest related to this study.
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