The effect of resistance training on markers of immune function and inflammation in previously sedentary women recovering from breast cancer: a randomized controlled trial

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2016 Feb;155(3):471-82. doi: 10.1007/s10549-016-3688-0. Epub 2016 Jan 28.


The purpose of this randomized controlled trial was to determine the effects of resistance training (RT) on markers of inflammation and immune function in breast cancer survivors. Thirty-nine breast cancer survivors were randomly assigned to a RT (n = 20) or control (n = 19) group. RT performed supervized exercise three times per week. Natural killer cell (NK) and natural killer T-cell (NKT) function, and markers of inflammation (serum TNF-α, IL-6, IL-10, and CRP) were measured before and after training. Changes in NK and NKT cell function were analyzed using ANCOVA, with the change score the dependent variable, and the baseline value of the same variable the covariate. Effect sizes (ES) were calculated via partial eta-squared. We found a significant reduction, and large associated ESs, in the RT group compared to the control group for change in NK cell expression of TNF-α (p = 0.005, ES = 0.21) and NKT cell expression of TNF-α (p = 0.04, ES = 0.12). No differences were observed in any serum marker. Significant improvements in all measurements of strength were found in RT compared to control (p < 0.001; large ESs ranging from 0.32 to 0.51). These data demonstrate that RT has a beneficial effect on the NK and NKT cell expression of TNF-α indicating that RT may be beneficial in improving the inflammatory profile in breast cancer survivors.

Keywords: Breast cancer survivors; Immune function; Inflammation; Resistance training.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • C-Reactive Protein / biosynthesis
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / genetics*
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Inflammation / therapy*
  • Interleukin-10 / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Resistance Training*
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Survivors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood*


  • IL10 protein, human
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-10
  • C-Reactive Protein

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/12612000346875