Immune function in athletes versus nonathletes

Int J Sports Med. 1995 Jul;16(5):329-33. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-973014.


The purpose of this study was to compare natural killer cell cytotoxic activity (NKCA) and Con A-induced lymphocyte proliferation (T cell function) in athletes versus nonathletes, with measurement of natural killer (NK) and T cells to allow a comparison on a "per-cell" adjusted basis. Eighteen young male endurance athletes (10 runners and 8 cyclists) with a mean VO2max of 70.7 +/- 1.3 and 6.6 +/- 0.8 years of competitive experience were compared with 11 nonathletic male adults (47.6 +/- 3.1 Concentrations of circulating leukocyte and lymphocyte subsets, including NK and T cells, were not significantly different between groups. NKCA and T cell function also did not differ between groups, whether expressed unadjusted or adjusted on a per-cell basis. For all subjects combined, both NKCA and T cell function were unrelated to VO2max (r = 0.005, p = 0.98; r = 0.007, p = 0.97, respectively). These data do not support the contention that immune function, as measured in this study, is altered in endurance athletes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic*
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / physiology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Male
  • Sports / physiology*