The effects of brief physical conditioning on immune cells and cytokines in elderly individuals in Manaus, Amazonas

Márcia Cristina Gomes dos Anjos, João Paulo Diniz Pimentel, Allysson Guimarães da Costa, Deiziane de Souza Epifânio, Adriana Malheiro, Luiz Fernando de Souza Passos


Introduction: Aging is understood as the sum of all biological, psychological and social changes that occur over the years. Associated with aging we list up the changes of morphological and functional order of the immune system: Immunosenescence. Objective: This study’s objective was to characterize the effect of a brief exercise program on the profile of cytokines and peripheral blood mononuclear cells of elderly individuals in Manaus, AM, Brazil. Materials and methods: Twelve subjects aged 66.8 (± 3.7) years old on average engaged in three weekly sessions of exercises for 16 weeks and, seven subjects aged 66.1 (± 6.7) years on average, who practiced only recreational activities, composed the control group. Serum levels of IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, IL-17, TNF-α and INF-γ were measured using the CBA technique (cytometric Bead Array) and the count of subpopulations of lymphocytes – B, B1, T/CD4, T/CD8, Treg, NK and NKT – was performed using flow cytometry. Results: The relative number of B lymphocytes, T/CD4+ and NKT (CD3+/CD16 +/ CD56+) increased significantly (p <0.05) after physical activity, compared to the pre-exercise phase and the control group. In another analysis, each individual in the test group was classified either as major or minor producer of each cytokine; i.e., their values were above or below the cut-off point defined by the median of all measurements of that cytokine. Patterns of cytokine production were observed in the post-exercise group, which allowed defining sets ("signatures") of cytokines that were associated with the practice of short-term physical exercises. Conclusion: Our work showed that exercise induces changes in the count of immune cells, which allows us to infer that it can be used as an alternative to reverse or mitigate the implications of immunosenescence.

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