Introduction: In healthy individuals, strenuous exercise typically results in a transient increase in the inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-6 (IL-6). This increase in IL-6 is reported to have pleiotropic effects including increased glucose uptake, increased fat oxidation, and anti-inflammatory actions. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine if patients with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) have a differential cytokine response to exercise compared to healthy control subjects (CON). Methods: Eight patients with a TBI and eight age- and sex-matched controls completed an exercise test to volitional exhaustion. Metabolic data were collected continuously, and blood was collected at baseline, immediately post-exercise, and every 10 min for an hour post-exercise. Serum was analyzed for IL-6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-10 (IL-10), and cortisol. Results: Peak oxygen consumption (CON 33 ± 2 ml kg<sup>−1</sup> min<sup>−1</sup>; TBI 29 ± 2 ml kg<sup>−1</sup> min<sup>−1</sup>) and respiratory exchange ratio during exercise were equivalent between groups. There were no baseline differences between groups for cytokine or cortisol concentrations. Exercise did not increase IL-6 in TBI, whereas IL-6 was elevated from baseline in CON at 0, 40, and 50 min post-exercise (p < 0.05). IL-10 and cortisol increased from baseline in CON at 40 min post-exercise (p < 0.05). Conclusions: These data indicate that patients recovering from TBI have blunted IL-6, IL-10, and cortisol responses following a peak exercise test compared to non-TBI controls. This lack of an exercise response may represent impaired hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis function.
- Traumatic brain injury
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physiology (medical)