Background: The influences of exercising on cytokine response, fatigue and cardiorespiratory values are important aspects of rehabilitation in persons with multiple sclerosis (PwMS). Exercise performed within these programs is often practised in water but the effects of immersion on PwMS have not been systematically investigated.
Objective: The objective of this study is to determine differences in cytokine and neurotrophin concentrations, fatigue and cardiorespiratory values in response to 3 week endurance training conducted on a cycle ergometer or an aquatic bike.
Methods: A randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted in 60 MS patients (Expanded Disability Status Scale range 1.0-6.5). Resting serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), nerve growth factor (NGF), Interleukin-6, soluble receptor of IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha, and concentrations in response to cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET), fatigue and cardiorespiratory values were determined at entry and discharge. Subjects performed daily 30 minute training at 60% of VO₂max.
Results: Cytokines and neurotrophins showed no significant differences between groups over the training intervention. Within the water group BDNF resting and post-CPET concentrations (p<0.05) showed a significant increase and NGF tended to increase after the training intervention. Short-term effects on BDNF (CEPT) tended to increase at the start and significantly thereafter (p<0.05). No changes occurred in the land group. Other cytokines and fatigue scores remained unchanged over the training period. Cardiorespiratory values improved significantly over time within both groups.
Conclusion: This study indicates that aquatic training activates BDNF regulation and can be an effective training method during rehabilitation in PwMS.