Eccentric exercise as an adjuvant to influenza vaccination in humans

Brain Behav Immun. 2007 Feb;21(2):209-17. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2006.04.158. Epub 2006 Jul 7.


The immune response to vaccination in animals can be enhanced by exposure to acute stress at the time of vaccination. The efficacy of this adjuvant strategy for vaccination in humans requires investigation. The current study employed a randomised controlled trial design to examine the effects of eccentric exercise prior to influenza vaccination on the antibody and cell-mediated responses. Sixty young healthy adults (29 men, 31 women) performed eccentric contractions of the deltoid and biceps brachii muscles of the non-dominant arm (exercise group) or rested quietly (control group), and were vaccinated 6h later in the non-dominant arm. Change in arm circumference and pain were measured to assess the physiological response to exercise. Antibody titres were measured pre-vaccination and at 6- and 20-week follow-ups. Interferon-gamma in response to in vitro stimulation by the whole vaccine, an index of the cell-mediated response, was measured 8 weeks post-vaccination. Interferon-gamma responses were enhanced by exercise in men, whereas antibody titres were enhanced by eccentric exercise in women but not in men. Men showed greater increase in arm circumference after eccentric exercise than women but there was no difference in reported pain. The interferon-gamma response was positively associated with the percentage increase in arm circumference among the exercise group. Eccentric exercise exerted differential effects on the response to vaccination in men and women, with enhancement of the antibody response in women, but enhancement of the cell-mediated response in men. Eccentric exercise of the muscle at the site of vaccine administration should be explored further as a possible behavioural adjuvant to vaccination.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / physiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antibody Formation / immunology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / immunology*
  • Influenza A virus / immunology
  • Influenza B virus / immunology
  • Influenza Vaccines / immunology*
  • Influenza, Human / immunology*
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Factors
  • Vaccines, Inactivated / immunology*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Inactivated
  • fluarix
  • Interferon-gamma