Blunted IL-6 and IL-10 response to maximal aerobic exercise in patients with traumatic brain injury

Kyle L. Timmerman, William E. Amonette, Melissa M. Markofski, Hayden A. Ansinelli, Elizabeth A. Gleason, Blake B. Rasmussen, Kurt A. Mossberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Introduction: In healthy individuals, strenuous exercise typically results in a transient increase in the inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-6 (IL-6). This increase in IL-6 is reported to have pleiotropic effects including increased glucose uptake, increased fat oxidation, and anti-inflammatory actions. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine if patients with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) have a differential cytokine response to exercise compared to healthy control subjects (CON). Methods: Eight patients with a TBI and eight age- and sex-matched controls completed an exercise test to volitional exhaustion. Metabolic data were collected continuously, and blood was collected at baseline, immediately post-exercise, and every 10 min for an hour post-exercise. Serum was analyzed for IL-6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-10 (IL-10), and cortisol. Results: Peak oxygen consumption (CON 33 ± 2 ml kg−1 min−1; TBI 29 ± 2 ml kg−1 min−1) and respiratory exchange ratio during exercise were equivalent between groups. There were no baseline differences between groups for cytokine or cortisol concentrations. Exercise did not increase IL-6 in TBI, whereas IL-6 was elevated from baseline in CON at 0, 40, and 50 min post-exercise (p < 0.05). IL-10 and cortisol increased from baseline in CON at 40 min post-exercise (p < 0.05). Conclusions: These data indicate that patients recovering from TBI have blunted IL-6, IL-10, and cortisol responses following a peak exercise test compared to non-TBI controls. This lack of an exercise response may represent impaired hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-118
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 17 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Exercise
  • Inflammation
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)


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