The influence of exercise training status on antigen-stimulated IL-10 production in whole blood culture and numbers of circulating regulatory T cells

Highly trained athletes are associated with high resting antigen-stimulated whole blood culture interleukin (IL)-10 production. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of training status on resting circulating T regulatory (T) cell counts and antigen-stimulated IL-10 production and the effect of acute bout of exercise on the T response. Forty participants volunteered to participate and were assigned to one of the four groups: sedentary (SED), recreationally active (REC), sprint-trained athletes and endurance-trained athletes (END). From the resting blood sample, CD4CD25CD127 T cells and in vitro antigen-stimulated IL-10 production were assessed. Ten REC subjects performed 60 min cycling at 70 % of maximal oxygen uptake and blood samples for T analysis were collected post- and 1 h post-exercise. IL-10 production was greater in END compared with the other groups (P < 0.05). END had a higher T percentage of total lymphocyte count compared with SED (P < 0.05). A smaller proportion of T CD4 cells were observed in SED compared with all other groups (P < 0.05). IL-10 production significantly correlated with the proportion of T within the total lymphocyte population (r = 0.51, P = 0.001). No effect of acute exercise was evident for T cell counts in the REC subjects (P > 0.05). Our results demonstrate that high training loads in END are associated with greater resting IL-10 production and T cell count and suggest a possible mechanism for depression of immunity commonly reported in athletes engaged in high training loads. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.