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Infection, inflammation and exercise in cystic fibrosis

Pauline Barbera van de Weert-van Leeuwen123*, Hubertus Gerardus Maria Arets1, Cornelis Korstiaan van der Ent1 and Jeffrey Matthijn Beekman123

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Paediatric Pulmonology, Cystic Fibrosis Centre, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands

2 Department of Immunology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands

3 Centre for Molecular and Cellular Intervention, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands

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Respiratory Research 2013, 14:32  doi:10.1186/1465-9921-14-32

Published: 6 March 2013


Regular exercise is positively associated with health. It has also been suggested to exert anti-inflammatory effects. In healthy subjects, a single exercise session results in immune cell activation, which is characterized by production of immune modulatory peptides (e.g. IL-6, IL-8), a leukocytosis and enhanced immune cell functions. Upon cessation of exercise, immune activation is followed by a tolerizing phase, characterized by a reduced responsiveness of immune cells. Regular exercise of moderate intensity and duration has been shown to exert anti-inflammatory effects and is associated with a reduced disease incidence and viral infection susceptibility. Specific exercise programs may therefore be used to modify the course of chronic inflammatory and infectious diseases such as cystic fibrosis (CF).

Patients with CF suffer from severe and chronic pulmonary infections and inflammation, leading to obstructive and restrictive pulmonary disease, exercise intolerance and muscle cachexia. Inflammation is characterized by a hyper-inflammatory phenotype. Patients are encouraged to engage in exercise programs to maintain physical fitness, quality of life, pulmonary function and health.

In this review, we present an overview of available literature describing the association between regular exercise, inflammation and infection susceptibility and discuss the implications of these observations for prevention and treatment of inflammation and infection susceptibility in patients with CF.

Cytokines; Exercise; Immune system; Infection; Inflammation; Lung disease; Respiratory system