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European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 117, Issue 6, pp 1131–1140 | Cite as

Lifelong training improves anti-inflammatory environment and maintains the number of regulatory T cells in masters athletes

  • Luciele G. MinuzziEmail author
  • Luis Rama
  • Nicolette C. Bishop
  • Fátima Rosado
  • António Martinho
  • Artur Paiva
  • Ana M. Teixeira
Original Article

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to quantify and characterize peripheral blood regulatory T cells (Tregs), as well as the IL-10 plasma concentration, in Masters athletes at rest and after an acute exhaustive exercise test.

Methods

Eighteen Masters athletes (self-reported training: 24.6 ± 1.83 years; 10.27 ± 0.24 months and 5.45 ± 0.42 h/week per each month trained) and an age-matched control group of ten subjects (that never took part in regular physical training) volunteered for this study. All subjects performed an incremental test to exhaustion on a cycle ergometer. Blood samples were obtained before (Pre), 10 min into recovery (Post), and 1 h after the test (1 h).

Results

Absolute numbers of Tregs were similar in both groups at rest. Acute exercise induced a significant increase in absolute numbers of Tregs at Post (0.049 ± 0.021 to 0.056 ± 0.024 × 109/L, P = 0.029 for Masters; 0.048 ± 0.017 to 0.058 ± 0.020 × 109/L, P = 0.037 for control) in both groups. Treg mRNA expression for FoxP3, IL-10, and TGF-β in sorted Tregs was similar throughout the trials in both groups. Masters athletes showed a higher percentage of subjects expressing the FoxP3 (100% for Masters vs. 78% for Controls, P = 0.038) and TGF-β (89% for Masters vs. 56% for Controls, P = 0.002) after exercise and a higher plasma IL-10 concentration (15.390 ± 7.032 for Masters vs. 2.411 ± 1.117 for control P = 0.001, ES = 2.57) at all timepoints. KLRG1 expression in Tregs was unchanged.

Conclusion

Our findings showed that Masters athletes have elevated anti-inflammatory markers and maintain the number of Tregs, and may be an adaptive response to lifelong training.

Keywords

Treg cells Master athletes Aging FoxP3 TGF-beta Interleukin-10 

Abbreviations

1 h

1 h post-exercise

APCs

Antigen-presenting cells

KLRG1

Killer cell lectin-like receptor G1

IL

Interleukin

Pre

Before exercise

Post

10 min into recovery

VO2max

Maximal oxygen consumption

URTI

Upper respiratory tract infection

Tregs

Regulatory T cells

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank all the master athletes and others participants that volunteered to contribute in this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Funding

The study was funded by the Faculty of Sport Sciences and Physical Education, University of Coimbra. In addition, the present manuscript was accomplished with support from CAPES, Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel, Brazil (LGM—Grants Number BEX-1417/13−4). AMT and LR are registered in the unit UID/DTP/04213/2016.

Conflict of interest

All authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Sports Science and Physical EducationUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  2. 2.School of Sport, Exercise and Health SciencesLoughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK
  3. 3.Portuguese Institute for Blood and TransplantationCoimbraPortugal
  4. 4.Flow Cytometry Unit-Clinical Pathology ServiceUniversity Hospital Centre of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

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