Relationships between physiological and psychological stress and salivary immunoglobulin A among young female gymnasts

Percept Mot Skills. 2004 Oct;99(2):605-17. doi: 10.2466/pms.99.2.605-617.


We investigated whether psychological and physical stress induced by training or competition influence the secretory immune system among 12 highly trained young female gymnasts. Salivary levels of secretory IgA and cortisol responses to gymnastic training session or competition were assessed a total of 10 times, immediately before and after two training sessions which had different intensities and just before and after a major competition. These parameters were also measured on two non-training days. The Brunel Mood Scale was also used to assess the gymnasts's overall mood on each test day. IgA:Protein ratio was calculated. Significant decreases in this ratio were found after each exercise session, related to the physiological and psychological stress induced by exercise. Over the 5-mo. training period the presession IgA:Protein ratios were unchanged. Gymnasts registered any episodes of upper respiratory tract infection. Bouts of exercise induce transitory effects on the immune system in relation to the workload and the stress induced by the exercise without any relation to increased susceptibility to illness in children.

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Female
  • Gymnastics*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin A / immunology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / immunology
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Saliva / immunology*
  • Stress, Physiological* / immunology
  • Stress, Physiological* / physiopathology
  • Stress, Physiological* / psychology


  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Hydrocortisone