Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
from September 2014
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2009) 08, 600 - 606

Research article
The Effect of Tapering Period on Plasma Pro-Inflammatory Cytokine Levels and Performance in Elite Male Cyclists
Negin Farhangimaleki1, , Farzad Zehsaz1, Peter M. Tiidus2
Author Information
1 Islamic Azad University, Tabriz Branch, Iran
2 Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo ON, Canada

Negin Farhangimaleki
✉ Postal Code: 5137945679, Third Floor, No:39, Molla Ali Akbar Valley, Baron Avak Avenue, South Shariyati St. Tabriz, Iran
Publish Date
Received: 03-08-2009
Accepted: 24-09-2009
Published (online): 01-12-2009
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The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of two different tapering period lengths on the concentration of plasma interleukin- 6 (IL-6), interleukin (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and performance in elite male cyclists. To this end, after completing 8 weeks progressive endurance exercise, twenty four high-level endurance cyclists were randomly assigned to one of two groups: a control group of cyclists (n = 12) continued performing progressive weekly training volume for 3 weeks while a taper group of cyclists (n = 12) proceeded with a 50% reduction in weekly training volume relative to the control group. A simulated 40 min time trial (40TT) performance ride was used as the criterion index of performance before and after the tapering period to evaluate the physiological and performance effects of each protocol. Blood samples were collected immediately post-40TT from all participants at the beginning of week 1, and the end of weeks 4, 8, 9 and 11. IL-1β, IL-6 and TNFα were assayed using a standard commercial ELISA kits (Quantikine; R & D Systems, Minneapolis, MN). The mean time to complete the 40TT in the taper group decreased significantly (p < 0.01) after both 1 and 3 weeks with reduced training volume relative to the control group. There were significant reductions in (p < 0.001) IL-1β, IL-6 and TNFα concentrations in the taper group relative to the control group at the end of the 3 week tapering period, but not at the end of the 1 week tapering period. These results demonstrate that both a 1 and a 3 week taper period will result in improved physical performance in trained cyclists but only a 3 week taper period will result in attenuation of post-exercise pro- inflammatory cytokines when compared to those continuing a more intense training regimen.

Key words: Endurance training, immune, performance, interleukin-1β, interleukin-6, Tumor necrosis factor α.

           Key Points
  • The excessive endurance exercise-induced elevations in pro-inflammatory cytokines would, in turn, stimulate the release of anti-inflammatory cytokines.
  • Elevations in pro-inflammatory cytokines indicate athletes are highly susceptible to infections.
  • 1and 3-week taper periods will reduce circulating pro-inflammatory cytokine levels thereby possibly limiting the chances of infection and potentially reducing the effects of these cytokines in inducing fatigue-like symptoms in athletes.
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