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
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2020) 19, 436 - 443

Research article
Effects of A High Intensity Interval Session on Mucosal Immune Function and Salivary Hormones in Male and Female Endurance Athletes
Camila Monje1, Isabel Rada1, Mauricio Castro-Sepulveda1, Luis Peñailillo1, Louise Deldicque2, Hermann Zbinden-Foncea1,2,3, 
Author Information
1 Exercise Science Laboratory, School of Kinesiology, Faculty of Medicine, Universidad Finis Terrae, Santiago, Chile
2 Institute of Neuroscience, UCLouvain, Louvain La Neuve, Belgium
3 Centro de Salud Deportiva, Clínica Santa María, Santiago, Chile

Hermann Zbinden-Foncea
✉ School of Kinesiology, University Finis Terrae 1509 Pedro de Valdivia Av., Providencia, Santiago, Chile
Publish Date
Received: 11-09-2019
Accepted: 07-04-2020
Published (online): 01-05-2020
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Although the effects of high intensity interval training (HIIT) on health and sports performance are well documented, the effects of this training type on mucosal immune function remain unclear. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of an acute HIIT session on salivary immune and endocrine marker levels (immunoglobulin A (sIgA), alpha amylase (sAA), cortisol (C), and testosterone (T)) in male and female endurance athletes. Twenty subjects (ten males and ten females) underwent ten bouts of treadmill running using a 4 min:2 min work:rest ratio at ~90% of peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak). Saliva samples were collected 5 min before and 20 min post-exercise. During work intervals, female participants had a higher HR than male participants (+4.0 ± 5%; p = 0.008). Rating of perceived exertion (RPE) increased throughout the duration of the HIIT session in both males and females (main time effect: p < 0.001), but was higher in males than females (+17 ± 4%; time x gender main effect: p < 0.001). Lactate concentrations were similar in both males and females. Exercise increased the concentration of salivary IgA (males: +24 ± 6%, p = 0.004; females: +27 ± 3%, p = 0.03), salivary alpha-amylase (males: +44 ± 22%, p = 0.036; females: +71 ± 26%, p = 0.026) and salivary cortisol (males: +41 ± 24%, p = 0.015; females: +55 ± 24%, p = 0.005). Testosterone levels and the Testosterone/Cortisol ratio remained stable in both males and females. These findings suggest that the physiological stress produced by a HIIT session does not affect immune function and does not disturb the anabolic/catabolic balance.

Key words: IgA, alpha amylase, cortisol, testosterone, HIIT

           Key Points
  • This study is the first to examine the immune and endocrine responses in well-trained subjects after a single bout of HIIT and to evaluate the influence of the gender on those responses.
  • After acute session of HIIT, the catabolic/anabolic balance was conserved, though cortisol levels increased in both gender, testosterone levels remained unchanged after HIIT exercise.
  • Interestingly, one session of HIIT induced a protective immune response since salivary IgA and sAA concentrations increased in both men and women.
  • HIIT session did not cause immune risk and the anabolic/catabolic balance was preserved.
  • However, further investigation is warranted to exclude a delayed response in the hours or days following HIIT.
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