BETWEEN THE RESPIRATORY COMPONENT AND THE IMMUNE SYSTEM IN ATHLETES
In order to support athletic effort, one of the basic compulsory
conditions is ensuring the necessary oxygen intake to the contracting
muscles and, in as much as possible, a quick elimination of the carbon
dioxide. Hematosis and myocardial contraction are the two organic
support elements for any athlete.
In order to cover
the gas exchanges, it is necessary first and foremost to have an
increased pulmonary elasticity (and not a big-sized chest cavity). In
fact, one of the indexes that can predict an athlete’s
performance is considered to be the pulmonary elasticity.
Starting from this general data, we have measured in the athletes
included in this research the values of the perimeter of their thorax.
By making the subtraction between the maximum perimeter in inhalation
and the maximum perimeter in exhalation, we have calculated the values
of pulmonary elasticity which can be considered as good to very good,
and are shown in Table 1 and Picture 1:
Picture 1. Pulmonary
elasticityLegend: the ordinate shows the
values in centimeters for the pulmonary elasticity; test I, II, III
represent the three moments when the values were recorded
We notice the very good values obtained by judoka as compared to the
control group. This can be explained on one hand by the type of sport
(the thorax is blocked and therefore it increases the vital capacity)
and by the fact that being a sport of force and symmetry it ensures a
harmonious development of the accessory thorax muscles.
The effects of smoking on the respiratory apparatus are indisputably
reflected by the values obtained by the control group: 4 out of 10 were
moderate smokers (an average of 7-8 cigarettes declared per day), which
has considerably lowered the average value of the elasticity. In judo,
only the athlete with values of 6,5 cm smoked in average 5 cigarettes /
Table 1. Pulmonary
In this context Pate R.R. and col. 1995 presented in their studies
about smoking a negative association between the habit of smoking and
the participation in physical activities. Among the selected athletes,
the number of smokers decreases in proportion with the increase of the
intensity of training.
For the athletics group, the
situation needs further detailing. Two of the athletes showed in their
medical history pulmonary disease with a possible defective healing of
the alveo-capilary barrier. One of the cases showed a lung abscess at
the age of 5, following which came a number of repeated acute
bronchitis (4 occurrences in 10 months), which represented the factor
that determined his parents to direct him towards training. This boy
also showed two viral afflictions through the duration of the testing:
a tracheal-bronchial respiratory infection (nu gasesc viroza in
dictionar) and labial herpes, and the pulmonary elasticity values were
at the low end recorded for this group.
case showed pneumonia of the right inferior lobe at the age of 9 and a
tracheal-bronchial respiratory infection through the duration of the
tests. In both cases, immunological tests showed an important
depression after physical effort, which is also maintained after
Compared to the laboratory data on
pulmonary elasticity (which does not show any significantly increased
values), the good athletic results of the speed group can be explained
by looking at the characteristics of the type of effort involved: being
an explosive effort and with a small duration, a great deal of the
energy used in this time frame is based on the accumulation of the
energetic sub-layer (cica exista substrate, dar mi se pare ca e altfel
ca sens; poti sa mai verifici pls?) in the skeletal muscles and does
not rely on the consumption of oxygen during the effort itself.
The superior values for pulmonary elasticity (8-9 cm) were recorded in
the endurance subgroup, as an adjustment to the requests of their
particular type of effort – predominantly aerobe, with an
intense demand on the cardio-respiratory function.
For the control group, the pulmonary elasticity recorded was lower than
in the two other groups, but superior to the values that are deemed
normal (3-4 cm). This is consistent with the lower degree of training
of these subjects, with fewer hours per week and lower intensity.
We can consider that from the point of view of the growing process, the
athletes have a symmetrical aspect, harmonious and without any
modifications such as could be diagnosed in asymmetric sports (i.e.
As a consequence of correctly-lead and
coordinated training, we have noticed a proportional development of the
chest cavity, which creates the premises for the support of effort
during training. As a direct result of this, we observed the adjustment
of the respiratory apparatus (very good in judo, good in athletics,
moderate in the control group).
Consistent with the
somatometric aspect of the chest cavity we recorded a pulmonary
elasticity of optimum value.
The problem of
sustaining the physical effort from the point of view of the
respiratory apparatus is an extremely important one in practice if it
is approached from several points of view. Achieving a pulmonary
elasticity at superior parameters ensures the optimal exchange of
gases, which for the body equals with the possibility of charging
hemoglobin with oxygen. Thus, the oxygen intake achieved in the neural
cell through the blood can be increased, which represents an important
factor for a full maintenance of the cognitive processes, of
neural-muscular coordination, of general local and integrating
adjustment. One of the factors that are frequently quoted as aiding
athletic trauma is central nervous fatigue.
in turn has four groups / types of causes:
first is hypoxia;
- The second is determined by the
accumulation in the blood of toxic circulating degradation products as
well as that of amino acids (leucine, valine, isoleucine, tryptophan)
which result from the decomposition of proteins, especially in sports
which emphasize force, and a lack of the 5-hydrotriptamine enzyme;
third id generated by a droop in the blood sugar levels, which is
inherent in endurance sports, being known the high consumption of
glucose which takes place in the nervous cell;
fourth cause is competition-related stress.
As another consequence of appropriate pulmonary elasticity through
oxygen intake, the body is capable of achieving optimal growth and
The exchanges occurring in
the alveo-capilary barrier have been proven to be relevant for the
cancellation of the so-called oxygen debt that characterizes all forms
of movement, but especially the anaerobe short-duration ones (speed
tests in athletics).
Starting from these aspects
and having in mind the fact that one of the elements tracked in the
tests throughout this research concerned the subjective symptoms of
fatigue as being the expression of a possible immunological type, we
have introduced as a supplement a stage of pulmonary hyperventilation
at the end of the training session. This is not an innovation, and it
has been known as a means of immediate recovery after effort, but the
difference resides in the duration for which this was applied:
hyperventilation until the appearance of a feeling of vertigo, as an
expression of hemoglobin being supersaturated in oxygen.
Inhibiting the production of NO determines the increase of sensitivity
towards infections, which makes NO play an important part in the
defense of the mucosa. The variable susceptibility of the NK function
to the modulation from the physical effort, as it appears in
literature, can be explained through the variety of types of studies:
comparisons between types of sports that are opposing as training
types, using uni-directional efforts, observing a certain stage of the
practice and not an entire training cycle. Therefore, a category of
studies do not show significant modifications of the NK activities when
analyzing athletes for variable lengths of time (4-8 weeks) while
conducting medium to maximum intensity effort (Pedersen B.K. and col.
On the other hand, numerous other studies
show a significant drop of NK values after high-intensity efforts,
suggesting that this immune suppression could be caused mainly by
prostaglandin (Watson R.R. and col. 1986) and / or associated with a
decrease of glutamine in the plasma (Newsholme E.A. 1994). The same
authors warn that the low levels of LT, IL, NK are not recorded only
immediately after effort, but they remain depleted for long periods of
time (Nieman D.C., Pedersen B.K., Shephard R.J.).
Picture 2. The
effect of nitrogen oxide on the mucosa of the respiratory airways
This aspect also forms the basis for the open-window theory
(Brines R. and col. 1996), which tries to explain the high risk for
infections, developing tumors, self-immune diseases, minimal resistance
against HIV that people who practice repeated physical training close
to 90-97% intensity can have. Moreover, it is suggested that performing
moderate physical effort can potentially slow the evolution of HIV-1 or
can be an inhibiting factor of tumors by stimulating the
demarginalization of the complex monocyte / macrophage (Pyne D.B. 1994).
Picture 3. The model of susceptibility
intensity efforts there comes a period of minimal reactivity on behalf
of the immune system, an immune suppression which is an opportunity for
infectious agents to act.
b)The concept of the
“J-shaped curve”, according to which the relative
risk of an infection of the superior respiratory airways is
proportionally increased in those who train as compared to the group of
growth and development processes have lead to the formation of a chest
cavity with symmetrical aspect, harmonious and without modifications of
its component segments.
2.The values of pulmonary elasticity
in judo were 8,5 cm, 8,7 cm (second testing), 9,2 cm (third testing).
The values of pulmonary elasticity in athletes were 7,4 cm (first and
second testing), 7,5 cm (third testing). The values of pulmonary
elasticity in the control group were 5,1 cm (first and second testing),
5,4 cm (third testing).
3.Inhibiting the production of NO
causes an increased sensibility to infections.
drop in NK levels after high-intensity efforts suggests that immune
suppression might be caused mainly by prostaglandins and / or
associated with a drop of glutamine in the plasma.References
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