Immunological status of competitive cyclists before and after the training season

Int J Sports Med. 1994 Aug;15(6):319-24. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-1021067.


The total number of leucocytes, T lymphocyte subsets, mitogen induced proliferation of lymphocytes, Il-2 generation, adherence capacity and chemiluminescence of granulocytes were measured and a leukergy test performed in fifteen young cyclists. The investigations were carried out at rest at the beginning of a training season and after six months of intensive training and a racing season, cycling approximately 500 km a week. Baseline values of the tested immune parameters were within the range observed in 16 non-trained healthy controls except significantly increased non stimulated neutrophil chemiluminescence. The second cyclo-ergometer test in August showed a marked improvement in the performance capacity of the cyclists. Significant decrease in absolute numbers of CD3+ and CD4+ cells, diminished IL-2 generation and fMLP and PMA stimulated chemiluminescence of neutrophils were noted. Surprisingly, a marked increase in lymphocyte proliferation induced by PHA and anti-CD3 MoAb and normalisation in non stimulated neutrophil chemiluminescence were also observed at rest after the training season. We conclude that long-lasting intensive training may result in significant alterations in lymphocyte number and composition and in neutrophil oxidative burst capacity, but their actual significance for immunity is seen controversially.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Granulocytes / immunology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-2 / metabolism
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Male
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets*


  • Interleukin-2