The purpose of this study was to monitor the stress-induced alteration in concentrations of salivary immunoglobulin (S-IgA) and cortisol and the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) over the course of a 9-week competitive season in college student-athletes and college students. The subjects consisted of 14 NCAA Division III collegiate female soccer athletes (19.8 ± 1.0 years, mean ± SD) and 14 female college students (22.5 ± 2.6 years). Salivary samples were collected for 9 weeks during a competitive soccer season. S-IgA and cortisol concentrations were determined by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). A training and performance questionnaire was given to the subjects every week, to record the subjects' session rating of perceived exertion (RPE) for all the training, load, monotony and strain, as well as any injuries or illnesses experienced. The between groups ANOVA procedure for repeated measures showed no changes in salivary concentrations of IgA and cortisol. Chi-square analysis showed that during the 9-week training season injury and illness occurred at a higher rate among the soccer players. There was a significant difference at baseline between soccer and control S-IgA levels (p≤0.05). Decreased levels of S-IgA and increases in the indices of training (load, strain and monotony) were associated with an increase in the incidence of illness during the 9-week competitive soccer season. Key PointsThere was a significant difference at baseline between soccer and control S-IgA levelsEighty-two percent of illnesses could be explained by a preceding decrease in S-IgA.Increases in the indices of training (load, strain and monotony) were associated with an increase in the incidence of illness.
Keywords: Training; endocrine; football; illness.