Exercise, stress and immune system functional responses

Smith, Carine
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Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Stress related to chronic exercise affects both the immune and endocrine systems, but there are still many issues that are poorly understood, particularly effects of stress on the functional capacity of immune cells. This thesis probed some of these issues using physiological models of physical and psychological stress. Both exercise training stress and chronic psychological stress in human subjects were shown to result in an up-regulation of spontaneous reactivity of white blood cells in vitro, using two different assays, namely a) a peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) culture assay measuring immune cell responsiveness and b) a relatively new flow cytometry technique for assessing activation status of cells by their expression of the surface marker CD69, in a lymphocyte subpopulation-specific manner. An up-regulation of immune cell activation in the absence of an additional stressor was associated with a decreased capacity to mount a response to a subsequent mitogen stimulus in vitro after chronic psychological stress and acute, extreme exercise stress. Another novel finding was that cortisol high-responders to chronic psychological stress exhibited a higher spontaneous reactivity of both CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes when compared to cortisol low-responders. This result indicates that chronic exposure to cortisol may decrease its usual inhibitory effect on spontaneous T lymphocyte responsiveness. After optimisation of an animal model of mild, psychological stress, we demonstrated (using an IL-6 antibody) that IL-6 is necessary for a full-blown cortisol response to chronic, intermittent mild stress. Results also suggest that IL-6 plays a role in regulation of its own secretion by PBMCs in response to a stressor, by maintaining the production of IL-1β in the face of stress. Basal serum corticosterone concentration was shown to be the main determinant of the magnitude of mitogen-stimulated PBMC secretion of IL-6 in vitro in the stress-free controls. However, after blocking of IL-6 in vivo, IL-1β was identified as a major regulator of IL-6 secretion by mitogen-stimulated PBMCs in vitro, independently of the presence or absence of stress. The implications of these novel findings are that proinflammatory cytokines are sensitively regulated during mild stress.Mean serum cortisol concentration at rest was not a useful tool to assess chronic exercise stress after training intervention. However, classification of athletes at baseline into two groups according to their resting serum cortisol concentration illustrated two distinct patterns for the responses of both cortisol and the cortisol:testosterone ratio to chronic stress. These studies on the effects of chronic stress on parameters of the endocrine stress-axis and the immune system led to the following main conclusions: a) chronic exposure to cortisol results in a decreased inhibition of spontaneous immune cell activity at rest, b) this increased spontaneous activation of immune cells at rest in the absence of a stressor, is associated with a suppression of immune capacity to respond to a subsequent challenge, c) the latter finding is not evident under stress-free conditions where cortisol promoted immune cell IL-6 secretion, and d) IL- 1β and IL-6 are involved in the regulation of each others’ secretion.
AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Chroniese oefening-verwante stres beïnvloed beide the immuun- en endokriene sisteme, maar daar is nog baie aspekte wat swak begryp word, veral m.b.t. die effekte van stres op die funksionele kapasiteit van immuunselle. Hierdie tesis het sommige van dié vraagpunte ondersoek deur gebruik te maak van fisiologiese en psigologiese stres. Beide oefening program-verwante stres en chroniese psigologiese stres in proefpersone het ‘n op-regulering van spontane witbloedselreaktiwiteit in vitro tot gevolg gehad, wat d.m.v twee verskillende metodes aangetoon is, naamlik a) ‘n perifere bloed mononukluêre selkultuur (PBMS-kultuur) bepaling van immuunsel reaktiwiteit en b) ‘n relatief nuwe vloeisitometriese tegniek vir die assessering van aktiveringsstatus van selle, deur hul uitdrukking van die oppervlakmerker CD69, op ‘n limfosiet subpopulasie-spesifieke wyse. ‘n Opregulering van immuunselaktiwiteit in die afwesigheid van ‘n addisionele stressor is geassosieer met ‘n verlaagde kapsiteit om te reageer op ‘n latere mitogeniese prikkel in vitro, na chroniese psigologiese stres en akute, erge oefeningstres. Nog ‘n nuwe bevinding was dat kortisol hoog-respondeerders, in reaksie op chroniese psigologiese stres, ‘n hoër spontane reaktiwiteit van beide CD4+- and CD8+-limfosiete toon in vergelyking met kortisol laagresopndeerders. Hierdie bevinding toon aan dat chroniese blootstelling aan kortisol die inhiberende effek daarvan op spontane reaktiwiteit van T-limfosiete verminder. Na optimalisering van ‘n rotmodel van gematigde, psigologiese stres, het ons gedemonstreer (deur gebruik te maak van ‘n IL-6 teenliggaam) dat IL-6 nodig is vir ‘n volledige kortisolreaksie op chroniese, onderbroke, gematigde stres. Die resultate dui daarop dat IL-6 ‘n rol in die regulering van sy eie sekresie deur PBMSe in reaksie tot ‘n stressor speel, deur die handhawing van produksie van IL-1β in die teenwoordigheid van stres. Basale serum kortisolkonsentrasie is as die belangrikste beslissende faktor in die omvang van mitogeengestimuleerde PBMS sekresie van IL-6 in vitro in die stresvrye kontroles aangedui. Na blokkering van IL-6 in vivo, is IL-1β egter as ‘n belangrike reguleerder van IL-6 sekresie deur mitogeen-gestimuleerde PBMSe in vitro geïdentifiseer, onafhanklik van die teenwoordigheid of afwesigheid van stres. Die implikasie van hierdie nuwe bevindinge is dat proinflammatoriese sitokiene tydens gematigde stres sensitief gereguleer word.Die gemiddelde serum kortisolkonsentrasie in ‘n rustende toestand was nie ‘n gepaste instrument om chroniese oefeningstres na ‘n oefenprogram-ingreep te assesseer nie. Na basislyn klassifikasie van atlete in twee groepe volgens hul rustende serum kortisolkonsentrasie, is twee afsonderlike patrone vir die reaksie van beide kortisol en die kortisol:testosteroon verhouding egter aangetoon. Hierdie studies rakende die effekte van chroniese stres op parameters van die endokriene stres-as en die immuunsisteem het tot die volgende vernaamste gevolgtrekkings gelei: a) chroniese blootstelling aan kortisol het ‘n verlaagde inhibisie van spontane immuunselaktiwiteit tydens rustende toestande tot gevolg, b) hierdie verhoogde spontane aktivering van immuunselle tydens ‘n rustende toestand word geassosieer met ‘n onderdrukking van immuunkapasiteit om te reageer op ‘n daaropvolgende prikkel, c) laasgenoemde bevinding is nie sigbaar tydens stresvrye toestande, wanneer kortisol IL-6 sekresie bevorder, nie en d) IL- 1β en IL-6 is betrokke by die regulering van mekaar se sekresie.
Dissertation (PhD)--University of Stellenbosch, 2004.
Stress (Physiology), Immune systemEffect of stress on, Theses -- Physiology (Human and animal), Dissertations -- Physiology (Human and animal)