Haematological and acute-phase responses associated with delayed-onset muscle soreness in humans

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1995;71(2-3):137-42. doi: 10.1007/BF00854970.


Delayed-onset muscle soreness following unaccustomed or eccentric exercise is associated with inflammation, tissue necrosis and the release of muscle enzymes (Newham et al. 1983). We have investigated the time course of changes in circulating leucocytes and serum levels of some acute phase reactants, serum creatine kinase activity (CK) and muscle pain after a 40-min bout of bench-stepping exercise in eight healthy untrained subjects. Leg muscle soreness was greatest 2 days after the exercise bout. Peak serum CK values [mean (SD) 540 (502) IU.1-1] occurred 1-7 days post-exercise. Serum C-reactive protein (CRP) was unchanged from pre-exercise levels [7.8 (3.4) mg.1-1] immediately post-exercise [7.9 (2.3) mg.1-1] but rose to a peak of 17.0 (3.9) mg.1-1 1 day post-exercise, thereafter declining to basal levels. Serum levels of iron and zinc fell below pre-exercise levels for 1-3 days post-exercise. Serum albumin, IgG and IgM fell below pre-exercise levels from 1 day post-exercise, reaching minimal values (about 80% of basal levels) at 7 days post-exercise. The exercise did not appear to significantly affect serum levels of alpha-1-antitrypsin and alpha-1-acid glycoprotein. Two and three days after the exercise bout the circulating numbers of total leucocytes, neutrophils, monocytes and basophils fell 15-20% below pre-exercise levels, whereas lymphocytes, eosinophils and platelets were unchanged. The results indicate that a rapid acute phase inflammatory response is initiated within 1 day of a bout of exercise that induces delayed-onset muscle soreness, and that any later tissue necrosis that may occur is not accompanied by further marked changes in acute-phase reactants such as CRP.

MeSH terms

  • Acute-Phase Proteins / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Blood Cells / physiology*
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / analysis
  • Iron / blood
  • Leukocytes / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Pain
  • Time Factors
  • Zinc / blood


  • Acute-Phase Proteins
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Iron
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Zinc