European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 116, Issue 11–12, pp 2305–2314 | Cite as

Running decreases knee intra-articular cytokine and cartilage oligomeric matrix concentrations: a pilot study

  • Robert D. HyldahlEmail author
  • Alyssa Evans
  • Sunku Kwon
  • Sarah T. Ridge
  • Eric Robinson
  • J. Ty Hopkins
  • Matthew K. Seeley
Original Article



Regular exercise protects against degenerative joint disorders, yet the mechanisms that underlie these benefits are poorly understood. Chronic, low-grade inflammation is widely implicated in the onset and progression of degenerative joint disease.


To examine the effect of running on knee intra-articular and circulating markers of inflammation and cartilage turnover in healthy men and women.


Six recreational runners completed a running (30 min) and control (unloaded for 30 min) session in a counterbalanced order. Synovial fluid (SF) and serum samples were taken before and after each session. Cytokine concentration was measured in SF and serum using a multiplexed cytokine magnetic bead array. Ground reaction forces were measured during the run.


There were no changes in serum or SF cytokine concentration in the control condition. The cytokine GM-CSF decreased from 10.7 ± 9.8 to 6.2 ± 5.9 pg/ml pre- to post-run (p = 0.03). IL-15 showed a trend for decreasing concentration pre- (6.7 ± 7.5 pg/ml) to post-run (4.3 ± 2.7 pg/ml) (p = 0.06). Changes in IL-15 concentration negatively correlated with the mean number of foot strikes during the run (r 2 = 0.67; p = 0.047). The control condition induced a decrease in serum COMP and an increase in SF COMP, while conversely the run induced an increase in serum COMP and a decrease in SF COMP. Changes in serum and SF COMP pre- to post-intervention were inversely correlated (r 2 = 0.47; p = 0.01).


Running appears to decrease knee intra-articular pro-inflammatory cytokine concentration and facilitates the movement of COMP from the joint space to the serum.


Inflammation Synovial fluid Knee joint Osteoarthritis Exercise Biomarker COMP Ground reaction force GM-CSF IL-15 IL-6 



Analysis of variance


Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein


Granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor


Ground reaction force


Interferon alpha-2










Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist


Interleukin-1 beta


Interleukin-1 alpha








Interluekin-12 subunit beta


Interferon-gamma-inducible protein-10


Monocyte chemoattractant protein-1


Macrophage inflammatory protein-1 alpha


Macrophage inflammatory protein-1 beta




Rheumatoid arthritis


Synovial fluid



We would like to thank our research participants for their time and effort.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert D. Hyldahl
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alyssa Evans
    • 1
  • Sunku Kwon
    • 1
  • Sarah T. Ridge
    • 1
  • Eric Robinson
    • 2
  • J. Ty Hopkins
    • 1
  • Matthew K. Seeley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Exercise SciencesBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  2. 2.Utah Valley Sports Medicine and OrthopedicsProvoUSA

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