We investigated the effects of acute endurance exercise and habitual physical activity for health maintenance on human neutrophil function in 12 untrained men. The acute exercise condition was a continuous exercise for 90 minutes at the intensity of 50% and 55% of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) on an ergometer. The training program was 3km jogging three times per week for 8 weeks. The capacity of neutrophils to produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) was detected with lucigenin-dependent chemiluminescence (LgCL) and luminol-dependent chemiluminescence (LmCL) on stimulation with opsonized zymosan (OZ) and phorbol myristate acetate (PMA).
As for the acute exercise effects, both LgCL and LmCL responses of neutrophils stimulated using PMA consistently increased after exercise at 50% VO2max, whereas those stimulated with OZ remained unchanged. At 55% VO2max, LgCL responses to both stimulants increase maximally 1h after exercise, and then decreased 3h after exercise, whereas LmCL responses to both stimulants increased continuously after exercise at 55% VO2max. These phenomena observed at 55% VO2max compared to 50% VO2max suggests the improved capacity of producing ROS neutrophils after exercise. The number of neutrophils also increased maximally 1h after exercise, due to the mobilization of band neutrophils (shift to the left), suggesting that functional changes was associated with cell mobilization. The increase in the capacity of neutrophils to produce ROS and marked neutrophilia following the acute endurance exercise suggests that a large quantity of ROS may be produced in vivo.
As for the training effects, the LgCL and LmCL responses were maintained in the exercise group as compared to the decreased ones in the control group. The difference between the exercise group and the control group was observed only in LgCL response to OZ. Humoral immune factors (IgG, IgA, IgM, C3, C4) and serum opsonic activity were also unaltered. These phenomena suggest that homeostasis might be kept constant in terms of immunity through regular physical activity.