High physical activity in young children suggests positive effects by altering autoantigen-induced immune activity

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2016 Apr;26(4):441-50. doi: 10.1111/sms.12450. Epub 2015 Apr 18.


Physical activity in children is associated with several positive health outcomes such as decreased cardiovascular risk factors, improved lung function, enhanced motor skill development, healthier body composition, and also improved defense against inflammatory diseases. We examined how high physical activity vs a sedentary lifestyle in young children influences the immune response with focus on autoimmunity. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells, collected from 55 5-year-old children with either high physical activity (n = 14), average physical activity (n = 27), or low physical activity (n = 14), from the All Babies In Southeast Sweden (ABIS) cohort, were stimulated with antigens (tetanus toxoid and beta-lactoglobulin) and autoantigens (GAD65 , insulin, HSP60, and IA-2). Immune markers (cytokines and chemokines), C-peptide and proinsulin were analyzed. Children with high physical activity showed decreased immune activity toward the autoantigens GAD65 (IL-5, P < 0.05), HSP60 and IA-2 (IL-10, P < 0.05) and also low spontaneous pro-inflammatory immune activity (IL-6, IL-13, IFN-γ, TNF-α, and CCL2 (P < 0.05)) compared with children with an average or low physical activity. High physical activity in young children seems to have positive effects on the immune system by altering autoantigen-induced immune activity.

Keywords: Physical activity; autoimmunity; cytokines; immune response; young children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autoantigens / immunology*
  • Chemokines / blood
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Sweden


  • Autoantigens
  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines