January 31, 2017
Lara Carlson, DPE, FACSM, CSCS, associate professor in the University of New England Department of Physical Therapy and the Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences, Michael Lawrence, M.S., Motion Analysis Laboratory Manager in the Department of Physical Therapy and Kaylee LeCavalier, 2015 graduate of Applied Exercise Science program, recently published their research in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
The publication is titled “Salivary Lymphocyte Responses Following Acute Anaerobic Exercise In A Cool Environment.” The research was conducted both in Maine and on a glacier in Thorsmörk, Iceland as part of an Environmental Physiology course developed by Carlson. A collaboration between UNE and AboGen, a Maine biotechnology company, enabled the research team to utilize new technology to obtain the same information from saliva as what previously could only be obtained from blood.
Heavy exercise has been linked to transient alterations in immune function - typically increasing leukocytes (aka white blood cells) and leukocyte subpopulations (e.g., neutrophils, monocytes, lymphocytes) immediately following exercise, with subjects experiencing a dramatic decline in lymphocytes several hours after exercise. Conventional wisdom holds that cold exposure also suppresses immune function; however, this belief is not consistently supported by available evidence. Establishing a relationship between exercise and immune function is important as athletic performance may be negatively impacted due to increases upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) following strenuous exercise, as compared to their more sedentary counterparts. In our study, there was no indication that exercise in the cool environment presented a greater challenge to the subjects' immunity. Rather, these data indicate exercise in a cool environment produces smaller fluctuations in salivary immune cells as compared to resting levels.
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