The effects of acute exercise and glutamine supplementation on immune system of female athletes

Por: E. Alijani e Z. Hosseini.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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There is evidence that numbers of circulating white blood cells an subsets, together with cytokine levels, are markedly altered as a result of prolonged, exhaustive, and acute exercise [1,2,3,6]. For many years, it was thought that both lymphocytes and macrophages obtained most of their energy from the oxidation of glucose[6,8,9,11]. It has been shown that the immune system also use glutamine as a feul to avoid reduction in the number of white blood cells and its subsets [5,6,7,12]. The question therefore arises as to whether extra glutamine should be provided after acute and exhaustive exercise. Because most of investigations used male athletes, the purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of 2 hours acute and exhaustive exercise and glutamine supplementation on immune system of female student athletes.


30 volunteer physical education students of Shahid Chamran University were selected and randomly divided into 3 groups: glutamine supplementation + exercise, placebo + exercise, and control. Vo2 max were measured by Jostrand  test in all subjects during pretest. The glutamine supplementation and placebo group were asked to exercise up to exhaustion in the ergometer at %75 of their Vo2 max for 2 hours. Total 14 gr of either glutamine or placebo were used so that in a double-blind way each subject was given 3.5 gr glutamine or placebo  every 45 minutes during this study            (4 times, 45, 90, 135, 180 min, each time 3.5gr). The control subjects were asked not to do any exercise. 2 hours after the completion of test blood samples were again taken in order to measure the research variables as post-test. Descriptive statistic, dependent t-test, 2 Way-ANOVA, and the follow up Tucky test at α=0.05 were used to test hypothesizes.


The findings of the present study showed that there was significant decrease in Neutrophils of glutamine group            (α = 0.029) after 2 hrs exercise .There was a significant increase in the total of leucocytes and CD8 and a significant decrease in CD4 of placebo group when comparing with glutamine or control group. The results also indicated that 2hrs acute  exercise caused a significant increase in % of CD8 and decrease in CD4 cells of both glutamine supplmentation and exercise group when comparing the pre and post- test findings(α = %17).

Discussion / conclusions

On the base of  findings  of this study , it is noted that 2hrs acute and exhaustive exercise can alter white blood cells and subsets. As indicated in this study ,  glutamine may be concerned  as an important supplement for the immune system in order to reduce the effects of prolonged and exhaustive exercise on white blood cells and subsets . Due to our findings which are in agreement with many other results [2,4,8,9,10,12,13] it is concluded that provision of glutamine might be beneficial for female student athletes at particular times  during their training in order to minimize the probable exercise- induced effects.



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