Cytokine response at high altitude: Effects of exercise and antioxidants at 4300 m

Todd A. Hagobian, Kevin A. Jacobs, Andrew W. Subudhi, Jill A. Fattor, Paul B. Rock, Stephen R. Muza, Charles S. Fulco, Barry Braun, Ann Grediagin, Robert S. Mazzeo, Allen Cymerman, Anne L. Friedlander

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54 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study tested the hypothesis that antioxidant supplementation would attenuate plasma cytokine (IL-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α), and C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations at rest and in response to exercise at 4300-m elevation. Methods: A total of 17 recreationally trained men were matched and assigned to an antioxidant (N = 9) or placebo (N = 8) group in a double-blinded fashion. At sea level (SL), energy expenditure was controlled and subjects were weight stable. Then, 3 wk before and throughout high altitude (HA), an antioxidant supplement (10,000 IU β-carotene, 200 IU α-tocopherol acetate, 250 mg ascorbic acid, 50 μg selenium, 15 mg zinc) or placebo was given twice daily. At HA, energy expenditure increased approximately 750 kcal·d-1 and energy intake decreased approximately 550 kcal·d-1, resulting in a caloric deficit of approximately 1200-1500 kcal·d-1. At SL and HA day 1 (HA1) and day HA13, subjects exercised at 55% of V̇O2peak until they expended approximately 1500 kcal. Blood samples were taken at rest, end of exercise, and 2, 4, and 20 h after exercise. Results: No differences were seen between groups in plasma IL-6, CRP, or TNF-α at rest or in response to exercise. For both groups, plasma IL-6 concentration was significantly higher at the end of exercise, 2, 4, and 20 h after exercise at HA1 compared with SL and HA13. Plasma CRP concentration was significantly elevated 20 h postexercise for both groups on HA1 compared to SL and HA13. TNF-α did not differ at rest or in response to exercise. Conclusion: Plasma IL-6 and CRP concentrations were elevated following exercise at high altitude on day 1, and antioxidant supplementation did not attenuate the rise in plasma IL-6 and CRP concentrations associated with hypoxia, exercise, and caloric deficit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-285
Number of pages10
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • C-reactive protein
  • Energy deficit
  • Hypoxia
  • IL-6
  • TNF-α


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