Inhibition of interferon, cytokine, and lymphocyte proliferative responses in elite swimmers with altitude exposure

David B. Pyne, Warren A. McDonald, Darla S. Morton, Jeanene P. Swiggett, Mareva Foster, Gerald Sonnenfeld, John A. Smith

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26 Citations (Scopus)


To determine the immunologic consequences of athletic training at altitude, blood samples were taken at rest from 10 swimmers and 8 control nontraining but altitude-exposed members of the 1996 Australian Olympic Swimming Team, near the start and completion of a 21-day training camp at 2102 m. Blood leukocyte numbers dropped in both groups (p < 0.05), with the decrease greater in the swimmers (-38% swimmers, -3% controls). Concanavalin A (ConA)-induced blastogenesis decreased in both groups (p<0.01), but the drop was greater in the control group (-32% swimmers, -56% controls, p < 0.05). Lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced blastogenesis more than doubled in both groups (281% swimmers, 249% controls, p < 0.01). Increases in mitogen- induced interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-4, and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) production and a decrease in IL-2 levels were observed in both groups after altitude exposure (all p < 0.05). The percentage of cells expressing HLA-DR fell (-33% swimmers, -20% controls, p < 0.01), whereas those expressing CD-4 expression increased (16% swimmers only, p < 0.01). Although training at medium-level altitude alters some immunologic parameters, the training-induced changes may be secondary to those induced by altitude alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-418
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Interferon and Cytokine Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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