Establishing a dose-response relationship between acute resistance-exercise and the immune system: Protocol for a systematic review

Adam Michael Szlezak*, Siri Lauluten Szlezak, James Keane, Lotti Tajouri, Clare Minahan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Exercise immunology research has traditionally focussed on aerobic-exercise, however it has become apparent in more recent years that resistance-exercise can also considerably affect host immunobiology. To date however, no systematic process has been used to establish a dose-response relationship between resistance-exercise and the immune system. The present systematic review was thus conducted to determine the dose-response effects of a bout of resistance-exercise on acute leukocyte counts. In accordance with the PRISMA guidelines, a systematic literature search was conducted in the electronic databases, PubMed, Web of Science, and Google Scholar, over the date range of 1989–2016. Following the PICO elements, eligibility criteria included: i) participants: healthy humans aged 18–40; ii) intervention: a single bout of resistance-exercise; iii) comparator: at least one comparator group; iv) outcome: acute measures of circulating leukocyte counts. Specific exclusion criteria were also applied. Risk of bias and quality of evidence was assessed using the PEDro scale. Due to the individual designs of the admitted studies, a qualitative analysis (systematic narrative synthesis) was employed in the present review. The results of the present review demonstrate that a single bout of resistance-exercise induces an acute monocytosis, neutrophilia, and lymphocytosis. It became apparent that the reviewed literature either does not consistently specify, or does not describe with sufficient detail, the time-course between the onset of exercise and the collection of blood. We recommend that researchers consider addressing this in future studies, and also collect blood measures during exercise to aid with comparison of temporal effects. Regarding the determination of a dose-response relationship, an acute neutrophilia, monocytosis and lymphocytosis appears to occur more rapidly and to a greater magnitude following a single bout of high-dose vs low-dose resistance-exercise. Mechanistically, exercise-induced cell trafficking changes are associated with mechanical, metabolic and endocrine factors. Physical aptitude of the host may also affect resistance-exercise-induced lymphocyte trafficking responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-65
Number of pages12
JournalImmunology Letters
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


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