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Effects of ascorbic acid supplementation on immune status in healthy women following a single bout of exercise

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This study was designed to determine the effects of ascorbic acid (AA) supplementation on immune status following a single bout of exercise. In a crossover design, 20 healthy sedentary women performed 30 min moderate-intensity cycling with (1000AA) or without (0AA) ingesting 1000 mg of AA daily for 1 week. Blood samples were taken immediately before, immediately after and 24 h post-exercise to determine the oxidative stress markers, immunophenotyping of peripheral blood lymphocytes and neutrophil phagocytic function. Moderate-intensity exercise in participants ranged in age from 21 to 23 years, showed no significant changes in oxidative stress markers in both cohorts. Plasma total creatine kinase was increased immediately after exercise and returned to baseline at 24 h post-exercise in both cohorts. Participants ingesting 1000 mg AA demonstrated significant higher level of plasma AA at pre-exercise and post-exercise as compared with the same time point in 0AA group. White blood cell and absolute neutrophil counts were increased immediately after exercise in both cohorts. Exercise resulted in increased lymphocyte count, CD4 + and CD8 + T cell counts immediately after exercise (p < 0.05) in 0AA group. AA supplement mitigated effects of exercise on CD4 + T cells. No significant change in neutrophil phagocytic function were observed when incubated with low or high concentrations of Candida albicans in both cohorts. These results suggested that a single bout of moderate-intensity exercise caused muscle injury with increased absolute CD4 + and CD8 + T cell counts, accompanied by a transient increase in neutrophil count, while their phagocytic function was not changed. However, a short-term AA supplementation does not show beneficial effects on exercise-induced changes in leukocyte subpopulations.

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Ascorbic acid


Cluster of differentiation

VO2max :

Maximal oxygen uptake


Reactive oxygen species


Reactive nitrogen species


Superoxide dismutase


Glutathione peroxidase


Body mass index






Heart rate




Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid


Degree Celsius




Alanine aminotransferase


International Federation of Clinical Chemistry


Creatine kinase




Thiobarbituric acid


Thiobarbituric acid reactive substances






Complete blood count


Department of Medical Sciences Thailand

C. albicans :

Candida albicans


Normal saline solution


colony forming unit per milliliter


Fluorescein isothiocyanate




Phycoerythrin cyanine 5




Phosphate-buffered saline


Standard error


White blood cells




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We acknowledge the superior technical assistance of Suwatsin Kittikunnathum, Hataikan Siwamoke and Sukanya Dechying. The authors would also like to thank Dr. Tracy Anthony and Dr. Panthong Singboottra Myers for helpful discussions during the writing of this manuscript.


This work was supported by the Faculty of Associated Medical Sciences, Chiang Mai University. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, interpretation of data and preparation of the manuscript.

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PB conceived and designed the study. PB, AC, KI, KN and PK carried out all the experimental work and statistical analysis. PB participated in the manuscript design, interpretation and preparation of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Piyawan Bunpo.

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This study was reviewed and approved by the Ethics Research Committee from Faculty of Associated Medical Sciences, Chiang Mai University (AMSEC61EX035).

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All the participants were informed of the purpose and demands of the study before giving their written consent to participate.

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Bunpo, P., Chatarurk, A., Intawong, K. et al. Effects of ascorbic acid supplementation on immune status in healthy women following a single bout of exercise. Sport Sci Health 17, 635–645 (2021).

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