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Differences in metabolic and inflammatory responses in lower and upper body high-intensity intermittent exercise

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The purpose of this study was to compare the effect of upper and lower body high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) on immunometabolism profile.


Seven male judo athletes completed two experimental sessions separated by at least 48 h. The athletes completed four bouts of the upper and lower body Wingate tests separated by 3-min recovery periods. The blood samples were collected at rest and immediately after the fourth bout of lower and upper body Wingate tests. Serum was analysed for IL-1ra (Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist), interleukins (IL-1) IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor alpha), cortisol, glucose, and NEFA (non-ester fatty acid). Peak power (maximum power attained during the 30 s test), mean power were calculated. In addition, after 1 and 2.5-min of each Wingate bout, blood samples from the ear lobe were collected for lactate analysis.


Our data demonstrated that lower body HIIE promoted a greater metabolic rate (values pre- vs. post-Wingate, for lactate: 1.02 ± 0.16 vs. 14.44 ± 1.08 mmol/L; for glucose: 112.5 ± 16.7 vs. 147.9 ± 23.5 mg/dL) and resulted in higher mechanical (mean power: 621 ± 46 vs. 427 ± 40 W, peak power: 794 ± 61 vs. 602 ± 109 W) performance compared to the upper body HIIE (lactate: 0.85 ± 0.18 vs. 12.69 ± 0.74 mmol/L; for glucose: 115.3 ± 20.4 vs. 123.7 ± 28.6 mg/dL; mean power: 480 ± 46 vs. 341 ± 45 W; and peak power: 672 ± 83 vs. 501 ± 120 W), but NEFA showed a similar response to both conditions, with increased IL-10 levels.


In conclusion, our results demonstrated that despite the higher performance in lower body HIIE, the inflammatory response did not differ between exercise modalities.

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High-intensity intermittent exercise


Interleukin 10


Interleukin 13


Interleukin 13 receptor alpha 1


Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist


Interleukin 2


Interleukin 4


Interleukin 4 receptor alpha


Interleukin 6


Non-ester fatty acid


Tumor necrosis factor alpha


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Fabio Santos Lira thanks Fapesp for their support (2013/25310-2), and Emerson Franchini thanks Fapesp (2012/00220-8).

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Fábio S. Lira.

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Communicated by Fabio Fischetti.

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Lira, F.S., Panissa, V.L.G., Julio, U.F. et al. Differences in metabolic and inflammatory responses in lower and upper body high-intensity intermittent exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 115, 1467–1474 (2015).

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