The Effects of Age and Aerobic Training on T Helper Lymphocyte Proliferation
MetadataShow full item record
Deficiencies in immune responses can lead to increases in the rate of infections and chronic diseases, such as cancer. Critical to the adaptive immune response is the activation of the T helper (Th)/CD4+ cell, the subsequent production of interleukin 2 (IL-2), expression of IL-2 and transferrin receptors (IL-2R, TfR) and transcription of genes resulting in DNA synthesis and T cell clonal expansion. The CD4+ lymphocyte response is impaired with ageing. Recent evidence suggests that moderate, regular aerobic training may increase the responsiveness of CD4+ lymphocytes to antigenic and mitogenic challenge, and thereby improve immune function in the older individual. Large volumes of chronic endurance training, and also high intensity training, may adversely affect the immune response, leading to immunosuppression and increased risk of infections. Impaired immune function and increased rates of URTI are found in athletes who undergo large volumes of training, often at high intensity. Purpose: To investigate if long-term aerobic training improved the immune response in men and women aged 65 to 75 years and, and to investigate if long-term endurance training depressed the immune response in male athletes aged 23 to 36 years. Methods:T helper lymphocyte proliferation was assessed monthly, by inducing the expression of CD25 (IL-2R ) and CD71 (transferrin) receptors with phytohemagglutinin (PHA). Percentage of CD4+ cells positive for the receptors, and the receptor density, were measured using two colour flow cytometry. Concentrations of intracellular calcium (Ca2+) and iron (Fe3+) were also measured monthly to determine the effect of endurance training on intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) and Fe3+ ([Fe3+]i) within the CD4+ lymphocyte signal transduction pathway. Results: After twelve months of moderate aerobic training the percentage of CD4+ lymphocytes positive for CD25 increased in males aged 65 to 75 years, but not in females. There was no training effect on the density of CD25 in either gender, nor was there a training-induced increase in [Ca2+]i, total intracellular [Ca2+] from endoplasmic reticulum stores ([Ca2+]t) or [Fe3+] in this age group. Significant month to month variations in leucocyte, erythrocyte and haemoglobin concentration, mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration, haematocrit, platelets, CD25 expression, CD71 expression, [Ca2+] and [Fe3+] were documented for both trained and untrained male and female groups. Aerobic capacity increased significantly with training for both men and women, with increases in peak, peak power and peak ventilation (p less than 0.05). Twelve months of chronic endurance training produced significantly lower haemoglobin, mean corpuscular haemoglobin and platelet concentration for six ([Hb]) and nine months ([MCHC], platelets) of the year in Ironman-distance triathletes, compared to sedentary males aged 23 to 36 years. There was no evidence of immunosuppression in the trained group, with no significant differences between groups in the percentage of CD4+ cells positive for CD25. The trained group showed a significantly higher density of CD25 receptors in October, January and June, suggesting a better immune response during these months. Endurance training did not effect [Ca2+] or [Fe3+]. The trained group did not show a reduced leucocyte concentration, and reported significantly fewer cases of URTI in twelve months than their sedentary counterparts. The 23 to 36 years age group showed seasonal changes in haematological and immunological indices similar to older individuals, indicating that autumn, late winter and late spring are periods of reduced immuno-competency. Conclusion: Twelve months of moderate intensity training significantly increased functional capacity in older men and women, and the percentage of CD4+ lymphocytes expressing CD25 in older men, thereby improving the lymphoid immune response. Twelve months of endurance training significantly increased CD25 density in CD4+ lymphocytes in Ironman triathletes compared to sedentary young males. The monthly changes in immune variables in young and older subjects suggested that autumn, late winter and late spring might be periods where individuals were more at risk of succumbing to infections due to decreased lymphocyte responsiveness. Summer months appeared to be a period of increased lymphocyte responsiveness and proliferation.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science
Item Access Status