Acute aerobic exercise in humans increases cytokine expression in CD27- but not CD27+ CD8+ T-cells

Emily C. LaVoy, Jos A. Bosch, Thomas W. Lowder, Richard J. Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Exercise alters the percentage of CD8+ T-cells in the bloodstream expressing type I and type II cytokines. It is unknown if this reflects a change in cytokine expression within individual cells, or whether these observations result from the exercise-induced shift in the proportions of early/intermediate (CD27+) and late (CD27-) differentiated cells, which have vastly different cytokine profiles. 16 males cycled for 60min at 95% maximal steady state. Mononuclear cells isolated from blood collected before, immediately after, and 1h after exercise were cultured overnight with and without phytohaemagglutinin stimulation. CD8+ T-cells were assessed for differentiation markers and intracellular cytokine expression by flow cytometry. The numbers and percentage of CD27-CD8+ T-cells increased immediately after exercise and fell below pre-exercise values 1h later. At 1h after exercise, an increased number and percentage of CD8+ T-cells expressing IL-2, IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-6, IL-4, and IL-10 was observed in both stimulated and unstimulated cells. The cytokine response to exercise was confined to CD27-CD8+ T-cells, although cytokine expression among CD8+ T-cells was highest when the proportion of CD27-CD8+ T-cells was lowest. Moreover, the cytokine response to exercise could be predicted by the number of late cells in resting blood: cytokine expression was highest among those with low resting proportions of late cells. We conclude that exercise-induced changes in the percentage of CD8+ T-cells expressing cytokines are not due to proportional shifts in early/intermediate and late differentiated T-cells. Exercise may prime late-differentiated blood CD8+ T-cells to initiate effector functions in preparation for their extravasation into the tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-62
Number of pages9
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Exercise immunology
  • Immunity
  • Intracellular
  • Memory T-cell
  • Naive T-cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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