Differential response of lymphocytes and neutrophils to high intensity physical activity and to vitamin C diet supplementation

Free Radic Res. 2003 Sep;37(9):931-8. doi: 10.1080/1071576031000150454.


We have determined the effects of chronic vitamin C intake on neutrophil and lymphocyte antioxidant defences during the acute phase immune response induced by intense exercise. Blood samples were taken from 16 voluntary athletes in basal conditions, both immediately after and 1 h after a duathlon competition. Sportsmen's nutrient intakes were determined before the competition. After determining the basal plasmatic ascorbate levels, the results were analysed taking into account the vitamin C intake and their plasmatic levels. Two groups were constituted, the vitamin C supplemented group and the control group, with the dietary vitamin C intake as the only statistical difference between groups. The duathlon competition induced a significant neutrophilia, which was higher in the supplemented group. Lymphocyte antioxidant enzyme activities increased after the competition, with a higher increase in SOD activity in the control group than in the supplemented one. The competition decreased neutrophil antioxidant enzyme activities and neutrophil ascorbate concentration. The decrease in the SOD activity in the supplemented group was higher than in the control group. Finally, the duathlon competition increased the expression of MAC-1 neutrophil adhesion molecule in the supplemented group. High vitamin C intake influenced the response of neutrophils and lymphocytes to oxidative stress induced by exercise, increasing the neutrophil activation.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Ascorbic Acid / analysis
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Catalase / drug effects
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / drug effects
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Macrophage-1 Antigen / drug effects
  • Macrophage-1 Antigen / metabolism
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / immunology*
  • Neutrophil Activation / immunology
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Superoxide Dismutase / drug effects
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Macrophage-1 Antigen
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Ascorbic Acid