Intense Physical Exercise Induces an Anti-inflammatory Change in IgG N-Glycosylation Profile

Front Physiol. 2019 Dec 20:10:1522. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.01522. eCollection 2019.


Exercise is known to improve many aspects of human health, including modulation of the immune system and inflammatory status. It is generally understood that exercise reduces inflammation, but there are missing links in terms of understanding the mechanisms as well as the differences between exercise modalities. N-glycosylation of immunoglobulin G (IgG) and total plasma proteins was previously shown to reflect changes in inflammatory pathways, which could provide valuable information to further clarify exercise effects. In order to further expand the understanding of the relationship between physical activity and inflammation, we examined the effect of intense exercise, in the form of repeated sprint training (RST), on IgG and total plasma proteins N-glycosylation in combination with traditionally used inflammation markers: C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin 6 (IL-6), and leukocyte count. Twenty-nine male physical education students were separated into treatment (RST, N = 15) and control (N = 14) groups. The RST group completed a 6-week exercise protocol while the control group was instructed to refrain from organized physical activity for the duration of the study. Three blood samples were taken at different time points: prior to start of the training program, the final week of the exercise intervention (EXC), and at the end of the 4-week recovery period (REC). Following the end of the recovery period IgG N-glycosylation profiles showed anti-inflammatory changes in RST group compared to the control group, which manifested as a decrease in agalactosylated (p = 0.0473) and an increase in digalactosylated (p = 0.0473), and monosialylated (p = 0.0339) N-glycans. Plasma protein N-glycans didn't change significantly, while traditional inflammatory markers also didn't show significant change in inflammatory status. Observed results demonstrate the potential of intense physical exercise to reduce levels of systemic basal inflammation as well as the potential for IgG N-glycosylation to serve as a sensitive longitudinal systemic inflammation marker.

Keywords: IgG; N-glycome; exercise; glycans; inflammation; repeated sprint training.