Lymphocyte enzymatic antioxidant responses to oxidative stress following high-intensity interval exercise

G. Fisher, D. D. Schwartz, J. Quindry, M. D. Barberio, E. B. Foster, K. W. Jones, D. D. Pascoe

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Fisher G, Schwartz DD, Quindry J, Barberio MD, Foster EB, Jones KW, Pascoe DD. Lymphocyte enzymatic antioxidant responses to oxidative stress following high-intensity interval exercise. J Appl Physiol 110: 730-737, 2011. First published December 2, 2010; doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00575.2010.-The purposes of this study were to 1) examine the immune and oxidative stress responses following high-intensity interval training (HIIT); 2) determine changes in antioxidant enzyme gene expression and enzyme activity in lymphocytes following HIIT; and 3) assess pre-HIIT, 3-h post- HIIT, and 24-h post-HIIT lymphocyte cell viability following hydrogen peroxide exposure in vitro. Eight recreationally active males completed three identical HIIT protocols. Blood samples were obtained at preexercise, immediately postexercise, 3 h postexercise, and 24 h postexercise. Total number of circulating leukocytes, lymphocytes, and neutrophils, as well as lymphocyte antioxidant enzyme activities, gene expression, cell viability (CV), and plasma thiobarbituric acid-reactive substance (TBARS) levels, were measured. Analytes were compared using a three (day) × four (time) ANOVA with repeated measures on both day and time. The a priori significance level for all analyses was P < 0.05. Significant increases in superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione peroxidase (GPX) activities were observed in lymphocytes following HIIT. No significant increases in lymphocyte SOD, CAT, or GPX gene expression were found. A significant increase in TBARS was found immediately post-HIIT on days 1 and 2. Lymphocyte CV in vitro significantly increased on days 2 and 3 compared with day 1. Additionally, there was a significant decrease in CV at 3 h compared with pre- and 24 h postexercise. These findings indicate lymphocytes respond to oxidative stress by increasing antioxidant enzyme activity. Additionally, HIIT causes oxidative stress but did not induce a significant postexercise lymphocytopenia. Analyses in vitro suggest that lymphocytes may become more resistant to subsequent episodes of oxidative stress. Furthermore, the analysis in vitro confirms that lymphocytes are more vulnerable to cytotoxic molecules during recovery from exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)730-737
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2011


  • Antioxidant enzymes
  • High-intensity interval training
  • Immunosuppression
  • Lymphocytes
  • Oxidative stress


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