Salivary IgA response of triathletes participating in the French Iron Tour

Int J Sports Med. 2006 May;27(5):389-94. doi: 10.1055/s-2005-865747.


Athletes are susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) during intense training and after major competitions. Secretory IgA, which is the predominant antibody of the mucosal immune system, is the major effector of host-resistance to many microorganisms causing URTI. Previous studies have shown that salivary IgA-mediated immunity decreases after a single short distance triathlon, but the effect of repeated triathlon competitions on secretory IgA levels remains unknown. The purpose of this study was to examine the salivary IgA response of elite triathletes in repeated triathlon races during the 2001 French Iron Tour (FIT). Eight triathletes participated in this study. Saliva samples were collected daily after waking up (fasting basal state), before (pre-race) and after (post-race) each day's competition. Salivary IgA, total protein, and flow rate were measured. Salivary IgA concentrations were measured by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The salivary flow rate was significantly decreased after each race compared with the fasting basal state (p < 0.01). The salivary IgA concentration of the fasting basal state decreased over the FIT and was even lower than that of the post-race values (p < 0.05). The salivary IgA secretion rate of the fasting basal state decreased by 51.9% over the FIT (p < 0.05). Our data suggest that intense exercise repeated daily has a cumulative negative effect on basal levels of salivary IgA.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / analysis*
  • Male
  • Mouth Mucosa / immunology
  • Saliva / chemistry*
  • Salivation / physiology
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Time Factors


  • Immunoglobulin A