IL-17, neutrophil activation and muscle damage following endurance exercise

Exerc Immunol Rev. 2012;18:116-27.


The T-cell subset Th17 is induced partly by interleukin (IL)-6 and activated by IL-23, and produces a proinflammatory cytokine IL-17. Since IL-6 increases dramatically following long-lasting endurance exercise, this response may also stimulate the induction of IL-17 and IL-23 after exercise. The aim of this study was to clarify the dynamics of IL-17 in association with endurance exercise-induced muscle damage and inflammatory responses. Fourteen male triathletes participated in a duathlon race consisting of 5 km of running, 40 km of cycling and 5 km of running. Venous blood and urine samples were collected before, immediately after 1.5 h and 3 h after the race. Plasma and urine were analyzed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). Haematological and biochemical variables such as neutrophil activation marker (myeloperoxidase: MPO), muscle damage marker (myoglobin: Mb) and soluble receptor activator of nuclear factor (NF)-KB ligand (sRANKL) were also determined to estimate the biological and pathological significance. Plasma concentrations oflL-6 (+26.0x), MPO (+3.2x) and Mb (+4.9x) increased significantly immediately after the race and IL-17 and IL-23 tended to increase. Furthermore, plasma concentrations of IL-12p40 and sRANKL increased significantly after the race. The measured parameters related to Thl 7 cytokines in the urinary output were closely correlated with each other and muscle damage marker. These findings suggest that IL-17 induced by IL-6 and activated by IL-23 or other IL-17 producing-cells and IL-23 might promote neutrophil activation and muscle damage following prolonged endurance exercise.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-12 Subunit p40 / blood
  • Interleukin-12 Subunit p40 / urine
  • Interleukin-17 / blood
  • Interleukin-17 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-17 / urine
  • Interleukin-23 / blood
  • Interleukin-23 / immunology
  • Interleukin-23 / urine
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology
  • Interleukin-6 / urine
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / immunology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / injuries
  • Myoglobin / blood
  • Myoglobinuria / immunology
  • Neutrophil Activation*
  • Peroxidase / blood
  • Peroxidase / urine
  • Physical Endurance / immunology*
  • Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor-kappa B / blood
  • Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor-kappa B / urine
  • Th17 Cells / immunology*


  • Interleukin-12 Subunit p40
  • Interleukin-17
  • Interleukin-23
  • Interleukin-6
  • Myoglobin
  • Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor-kappa B
  • Peroxidase