Immune and oxidative changes during and following the Western States Endurance Run

D. C. Nieman, C. I. Dumke, D. A. Henson, S. R. McAnulty, L. S. McAnulty, R. H. Lind, J. D. Morrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


Changes in immune and oxidative stress parameters were measured in ultramarathon runners competing in the 160-km Western States Endurance Run. Forty-five runners agreed to provide blood and saliva samples the morning before the race event, at the 90-km aid station, and 5-10 min post-race. Upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) during the two-week period post-race was assessed retrospectively by telephone interviews. Forty subjects completed 90-km (race time, 13.1 ± 0.3 h), and 31 completed the 160-km race event (27.0 ± 0.4 h). The blood neutrophil and monocyte counts rose 249% and 214%, respectively, in the 31 finishers. Salivary IgA (sIgA) secretion rate decreased significantly from 508 ± 40 μg/min pre-race, to 287 ± 39 μg/min at 90-km, and 254 ± 30 μg/min post-race (50% decrease). Significant increases were measured in cytokines at 90-km and post-race, with post-race IL-10 increasing 9.5-fold, IL-1ra 6.1-fold, IL-6 50.2-fold, and IL-8 2.5-fold over pre-race levels. Post-race indicators of oxidative stress, F2-isoprostane and lipid hydroperoxides, increased 33% and 88%, respectively. Pearson product-moment correlations revealed positive correlations at 90-km between F2-isoprostane and IL-6 (r=0.31, p=0.048), IL-10 (r=0.31, p=0.050), and IL-8 (r=0.43, p=0.005), but no other significant relationships between immune and oxidative stress indicators at 90-km and post-race. In the group of runners completing at least 90 km of the race, 26% reported an URTI episode during the two-week period post-race. A low sIgA secretion rate at 90-km was the best predictor of post-race URTI (173±34 μg/min in those who later acquired URTI compared to 325±40 μg/min in those without URTI, p=0.007). In conclusion, a modest correlation was found between cytokines and F2-isoprostane at 90-km when the greatest oxidative stress occurred, but no other significant correlations in immune and oxidative stress indicators during and following a 160-km ultramarathon race event were noted. About one in four ultramarathoners reported URTI during the two-week period post-race, and a low sIgA secretion rate mid-race best predicted URTI occurrence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-547
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2003


  • Cytokines
  • Isoprostanes
  • Oxidative stress
  • Salivary IgA
  • Upper respiratory tract infection


Dive into the research topics of 'Immune and oxidative changes during and following the Western States Endurance Run'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this