Acute and chronic effects of exercise on markers of mucosal immunity

Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2009 Jan 1;14(12):4444-56. doi: 10.2741/3540.


Decreased secretion rate of salivary markers of mucosal immunity, and in particular salivary immunoglobulin A (s-IgA), have been implicated as risk factors for subsequent episodes of respiratory infection in athletes. IgA is the predominant Ig in mucosal secretions and acts with innate mucosal defences to provide the 'first line of defence' against pathogens and antigens presented at the mucosa. As well as summarising the evidence concerning the effects of acute exercise and longer-term intensive training on these markers of mucosal immunity, this review explores the factors that impact upon salivary responses to exercise, such as method of saliva collection, stimulation of saliva collection and the method of reporting s-IgA data. The influence of adequate hydration and nutritional supplementation during exercise as well as exercising in extreme environmental conditions on salivary responses is also explored. Finally, the possible mechanisms underlying the acute and longer-term of effects of exercise on salivary responses are examined, with particular emphasis on the potential role of the sympathetic nervous system and the expression and mobilisation of the polymeric Ig receptor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal*
  • Immunoglobulin A / analysis
  • Saliva / immunology


  • Biomarkers
  • Immunoglobulin A