Epstein-Barr virus reactivation and upper respiratory illness in elite swimmers

Maree Gleeson, David B Pyne, Jason P Austin, J Lynn Francis, Robert L Clancy, Warren A McDonald, Peter A. Fricker

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    Abstract

    Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate the relationships between latent viral shedding of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in saliva, upper-respiratory illness, and mucosal immune suppression in a cohort of highly trained swimmers undertaking intensive training. Methods: Saliva was collected before selected training sessions from 14 elite male swimmers during a 30-d period of intensive training. Prior infection with EBV was determined by EBV antibody serology. Salivary IgA concentrations were measured by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and EBV viral shedding (EBV-DNA) was detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Symptoms of upper-respiratory illness were recorded daily.
    Results: Eleven swimmers (79%) were seropositive for prior EBV infection. Seven EBV seropositive swimmers (64%) had EBV-DNA detected during the study period. Upper-respiratory symptoms (URS) were reported in six of seven swimmers in whom EBV-DNA was detected and in three of four swimmers with no EBV-DNA detection. No URS were reported in the EBV seronegative swimmers. There was a statistically significant relationship between EBV serology status and URS (P = 0.027). EBV-DNA was detected in saliva before the appearance of URS. Salivary IgA levels were significantly lower immediately before the URS (P = 0.01) compared with subsequent peak IgA levels and declined to pre-URS levels on average 11 d after the first appearance of URS. Conclusions: The time course of appearance of EBV-DNA in relation to URS suggests latent viral EBV shedding may be a contributing factor in the URS. The low levels of salivary IgA detected before the URS indicated transient mucosal immune suppression in the study cohort. The viral shedding may alternatively be a reflection of the altered immune control mechanisms that occur in response to intensive exercise and unrelated to the URS
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)411-417
    Number of pages7
    JournalMedicine Science in Sports Exercise
    Volume34
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2002

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    Gleeson, M., Pyne, D. B., Austin, J. P., Lynn Francis, J., Clancy, R. L., McDonald, W. A., & Fricker, P. A. (2002). Epstein-Barr virus reactivation and upper respiratory illness in elite swimmers. Medicine Science in Sports Exercise, 34(3), 411-417. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005768-200203000-00005