The effects of plasma cortisol elevation on total and differential leukocyte counts in response to heavy-resistance exercise
The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of heavy-resistance exercise-induced elevations of plasma cortisol on circulating leukocyte counts. Nine healthy, recreationally weight-trained men volunteered for this investigation. Two exercise protocols were employed. Protocol 1 (P-1) consisted of eight sets of ten-repetition maximum leg-press exercise with 1-min rest periods between sets. Protocol 2 (P-2) was identical except for 3-min rest periods. A non-exercise protocol was used as a control treatment (C). Venous blood samples, heart rates and ratings of perceived exertion were obtained pre-, mid- and 5 min post-exercise. In order to examine the maximal influence of cortisol on leukocyte counts, we placed the subject's highest magnitude of cortisol change in response to one of the heavy-resistance exercise protocols in what we designated as the response protocol (R) and the other value was placed into what was designated as the non-response protocol (NR) for analysis. Significant increases in cortisol occurred from pre- to post-exercise for P-1 [mean (SD) 241.4 (25.0) to 302.0 (60.0) nmol · 1−1] and in the R conditions pre- to mid- and pre- to post-exercise [218.0(0.0) to 302.4(37.1) to 326.8 (51.9) nmol · 1−1]. No significant changes in cortisol occurred for P-2, NR or the control conditions. Significant increases in total leukocyte counts occurred from pre- to mid- and pre- to post-exercise both for R [5.6 (0.4) to 7.4 (0.3) to 7.3 (0.3) cells · 109 · 1−1] and NR [5.7 (0.3) to 6.9 (0.4) to 7.1 (0.4) cells · 109 · 1−1]. No significant changes in differential leukocyte counts occurred. In addition, no significant correlations between cortisol and total or differential leukocyte counts were observed. These data indicate that acute increases in total leukocytes along with no changes in differential leukocyte counts can occur in response to heavy-resistance exercise that does not significantly elevate plasma cortisol concentrations.
Key wordsImmune function Strength exercise White blood cells
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