Salivary levels of immunoglobulin A in triathletes

Eur J Oral Sci. 1997 Aug;105(4):305-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0722.1997.tb00245.x.


We investigated whether the physical exercise of an olympic distance triathlon affected the salivary IgA excretion of triathletes, as a biomarker for mucosal immune defence. 42 triathletes participated in the study. It was found that the salivary flow rate was decreased significantly after the race, thereby resulting in a significant reduction of the total salivary IgA output. The salivary IgA concentration (mg IgA/ml) did not differ, but expressed as total salivary protein, a significant reduction was observed. This was on the account of the salivary protein concentration (mg protein/ml), which was significantly increased. In contrast to the IgA secretion, the salivary amylase activity was increased significantly after the race. Therefore, our data suggest that the exercise of a triathlon may decrease the level of IgA-mediated immune protection at the mucosal surface. As triathletes may during the race be exposed to micro-organisms present in the swimming water, a decreased IgA-mediated immunity during the race may pose triathletes at an increased risk of infections.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Albumins / analysis
  • Amylases / analysis
  • Bacterial Infections
  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory / analysis*
  • Male
  • Mouth Mucosa / immunology
  • Risk Factors
  • Running / physiology*
  • Saliva / enzymology
  • Saliva / immunology*
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides / analysis
  • Secretory Rate
  • Swimming / physiology*
  • Water Microbiology


  • Albumins
  • Biomarkers
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides
  • Amylases