Influence of exercise on the immune function of rats of various ages

M. A. Pahlavani, T. H. Cheung, J. A. Chesky, A. Richardson

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55 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to determine whether exercise could prevent the age-related decline in mitogenesis, which has been well documented in rats, mice, and humans. At 1, 6, 12, and 18 mo of age, male Fischer F344 rats were subjected daily to swimming exercise for 6 mo. At the end of the 6-mo training period, spleen lymphocytes were isolated from the exercised rats and from age-matched sedentary controls. The induction of lymphocyte proliferation was measured with the mitogens concanavalin A (ConA) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS). In addition, the ability of the lymphocytes to produce interleukin 2 (IL 2) in response to ConA induction was measured. ConA- and LPS-induced proliferation decreased 41-63% between 7 and 25 mo of age in both exercised and sedentary control rats. ConA-induced IL 2 production decreased 42 and 62% between 7 and 25 mo of age for exercised and sedentary control rats, respectively. Although the age-related decline in mitogen-induced proliferation was smaller in exercised rats, this was due to a lower level of mitogenesis and IL 2 production in lymphocytes from young exercised rats. Exercise resulted in a significant decrease (23-32%) in mitogen-induced lymphocyte proliferation and IL 2 production in 7-mo-old exercised rats compared with 7-mo-old sedentary rats. However, in the 18- and 24-mo-old rats, mitogen-induced lymphocyte proliferation and IL-2 production was not significantly different between exercised and sedentary control rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1997-2001
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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