Exercise duration modulates upper and lower respiratory fluid cellularity, antiviral activity, and lung gene expression


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Exercise has substantial health benefits, but the effects of exercise on immune status and susceptibility to respiratory infections are less clear. Furthermore, there is limited research examining the effects of prolonged exercise on local respiratory immunity and antiviral activity. To assess the upper respiratory tract in response to exercise, we collected nasal lavage fluid (NALF) from human subjects (1) at rest, (2) after 45 min of moderate-intensity exercise, and (3) after 180 min of moderate-intensity exercise. To assess immune responses of the lower respiratory tract, we utilized a murine model to examine the effect of exercise duration on bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid immune cell content and lung gene expression. NALF cell counts did not change after 45 min of exercise, whereas 180 min significantly increased total cells and leukocytes in NALF. Importantly, fold change in NALF leukocytes correlated with the post-exercise fatigue rating in the 180-min exercise condition. The acellular portion of NALF contained strong antiviral activity against Influenza A in both resting and exercise paradigms. In mice undergoing moderate-intensity exercise, BAL total cells and neutrophils decreased in response to 45 or 90 min of exercise. In lung lobes, increased expression of heat shock proteins suggested that cellular stress occurred in response to exercise. However, a broad upregulation of inflammatory genes was not observed, even at 180 min of exercise. This work demonstrates that exercise duration differentially alters the cellularity of respiratory tract fluids, antiviral activity, and gene expression. These changes in local mucosal immunity may influence resistance to respiratory viruses, including influenza or possibly other pathogens in which nasal mucosa plays a protective role, such as rhinovirus or SARS-CoV-2.
exercise, fatigue, influenza A, lung gene expression, mucosal immunity, nasal lavage fluid
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