Acute exercise enhancement of pneumococcal vaccination response: a randomised controlled trial of weaker and stronger immune response

Vaccine. 2012 Oct 5;30(45):6389-95. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.08.022. Epub 2012 Aug 22.


Acute exercise at the time of vaccination can enhance subsequent immune responses. However, the potential benefit of this effect will be its efficacy in boosting poor responses, and thus protection in at-risk populations. The current study tested the effect of exercise on the response to either a full- or half-dose Pneumococcal (Pn) vaccination to elicit stronger and weaker responses. Subjects were 133 young healthy adults, randomised to one of four groups: exercise or control task, receiving a full- or half-dose Pn vaccination. Prior to vaccination, exercise groups completed a 15 min arm and shoulder exercise task, control groups rested quietly. Antibody levels to 11 Pn strains were evaluated at baseline and 1-month. Across all participants, exercise groups showed significantly greater increase in antibody levels than control groups. When doses were compared, it emerged that those who exercised had significantly larger responses than those who rested in the half-dose group, but in the full-dose groups responses were similar. This data indicates the effectiveness of exercise as a vaccine adjuvant, particularly in weaker responses. Thus, given the potential public health benefits of no-cost behavioural intervention to enhance response to vaccination, testing in at-risk populations should be pursued.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Antibody Formation*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / blood
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Male
  • Pneumococcal Infections / immunology
  • Pneumococcal Infections / prevention & control
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines / immunology*
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • IL6 protein, human
  • Interleukin-6
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor