Variation of salivary immunoglobulins in exercising and sedentary populations

J Lynn Francis, Maree Gleeson, David B Pyne, Robin Callister, Robert L Clancy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE: This study examined the nature of the variability in salivary immunoglobulin and albumin concentrations within an individual, between individuals, and between populations with differing levels of habitual physical activity.

METHODS: Fourteen elite swimmers, and 21 active and 18 sedentary individuals provided 12 saliva samples over a 30-d period. Group classifications were based on interviews, anthropometric measurements, and physical activity records. Symptoms of illness and physical activity data were recorded daily. Salivary IgA, IgG, and IgM were measured by ELISA, and albumin concentrations were measured by nephelometry. Variability was assessed using ANOVA procedures.

RESULTS: Elite swimmers, compared with active and sedentary individuals, had higher concentrations of salivary IgA (geometric mean=65 vs 32 and 40 mg.L, P=0.002) and greater variability in salivary IgA concentrations as individuals (P=0.007) and as a group (P=0.03). Salivary IgG variability in swimmers was also twofold greater than the other two groups (P=0.008). Salivary IgM and albumin variability were not significantly different between groups, but individual variability differed for swimmers and active individuals. The intraclass correlations for salivary IgA and IgG (but not for IgM or albumin) were 50% lower for swimmers than the other two groups (ICC for IgA: 20% swimmers vs 54% active and 46% sedentary individuals; ICC for IgG: 36 vs 59 and 57%).

CONCLUSION: The variability and fluctuation of salivary immunoglobulin concentrations were consistently greater in the elite swimmers, but multiple samples from individual swimmers were less correlated compared with participants with lower physical activity levels. These findings have implications for monitoring mucosal immune status within individuals and when comparing salivary immunoglobulin concentrations between groups with differing levels of physical fitness and activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-8
Number of pages8
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes


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