Background: It is known that exercise increases the number of stem cells within the circulation; however, it has not been clear which cellular processes are responsible for this increase. To answer this question, we analysed the influence of athletes' blood sera on human mesenchymal stem cells (MSC).
Methods: Sera were taken before and after short intensive exercise. As cellular parameters of MSC proliferation, apoptosis and migratory activity were analysed.
Results: A change in stimulation of proliferation or apoptosis was not seen after exercise. In contrast, the migratory activity of MSC was significantly increased after exercise. To identify potential factors that could be responsible for this effect, we also analysed the semiquantitative serum concentration of 120 cytokines. Of these factors brain-derived neurotrophic factor, cutaneous T-cell-attracting chemokine, epidermal growth factor receptor, glucocorticoid-induced tumour necrosis factor receptor ligand, growth-regulated oncogene-alpha, interleukin (IL)1a, IL6, IL8, IL15, pulmonary and activation-regulated chemokine and soluble tumour necrosis factor receptor II showed a significant increase whereas migration inhibitory factor howed a decrease in concentration after exercise.
Conclusions: IL6 is known to stimulate migration in MSC. It is recognised that contracting skeletal muscles synthesise and release IL6 into the systemic circulation in response to exercise. We therefore hypothesise that there is a direct relationship between exercise, IL6 release and stem cell recruitment.