Effects of oat beta-glucan on innate immunity and infection after exercise stress

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Aug;36(8):1321-7. doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000135790.68893.6d.


Purpose: To test the effects of oat beta-glucan (ObetaG) on respiratory infection, macrophage antiviral resistance, and NK cytotoxicity.

Methods: Mice were randomly assigned to one of four groups: Ex-H2O, Ex-ObetaG, Con-H2O, or Con-ObetaG. ObetaG was fed in the drinking water for 10 d before intranasal inoculation of HSV-1 or sacrifice. Exercise consisted of treadmill running to volitional fatigue (approximately 140 min) for three consecutive days. Fifteen minutes after the last bout of exercise or rest, mice (N = 24) were intranasally inoculated with a standardized dose of HSV-1. Mice were monitored twice daily for morbidity and mortality. Additional mice were sacrificed after exercise, peritoneal macrophages were obtained via i.p. lavage and assayed for antiviral resistance to HSV-1 (N = 18), and spleens were harvested and assayed for NK cell cytotoxicity (N = 12).

Results: Exercise stress was associated with a 28% increase in morbidity (P = 0.036) and 18% increase in mortality (P = 0.15). Ingestion of ObetaG before infection prevented this increase in morbidity (P = 0.048) and mortality (P = 0.05). Exercise stress was associated with a decrease in macrophage antiviral resistance (P = 0.007), which was blocked by ingestion of ObetaG (P < 0.001). There were no effects of exercise or ObetaG on NK cytotoxicity.

Conclusion: These data suggest that daily ingestion of ObetaG may offset the increased risk of URTI associated with exercise stress, which may be mediated, at least in part, by an increase in macrophage antiviral resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Avena / chemistry*
  • Glucans / pharmacology*
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / immunology*
  • Immunity, Innate / drug effects*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / immunology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal*
  • Stress, Physiological / immunology
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology*


  • Glucans