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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2 (1993), Issue 5, Pages 335-342
Invited review

Inflammatory response to strenuous muscular exercise in man

1Research Associate, FNRS, Laboratory of Human Applied Physiology, ISEPK, B21, University of Liège, Sart Tilman, Liège 4000, Belgium
2Center for the Biochemistry of Oxygen, Institute of Chemistry, B6, University of Liège, Sart Tilman, Liège 4000, Belgium
3Department of Clinical Biology, University of Liège, Sart Tilman, Liège 4000, Belgium
4Department of Anesthesiology, CHU, B35, University of Liège, Sart Tilman, Liège 4000, Belgium

Received 27 July 1993; Accepted 29 July 1993

Copyright © 1993 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Based on the humoral and cellular changes occurring during strenuous muscular work in humans, the concept of inflammatory response to exercise (IRE) is developed. The main indices of IRE consist of signs of an acute phase response, leucocytosis and leucocyte activation, release of inflammatory mediators, tissue damage and cellular infiltrates, production of free radicals, activation of complement, and coagulation and fibrinolytic pathways. Depending on exercise intensity and duration, it seems likely that muscle and/or associated connective tissue damage, contact system activation due to shear stress on endothelium and endotoxaemia could be the triggering mechanisms of IRE. Although this phenomenon can be considered in most cases as a physiological process associated with tissue repair, exaggerated IRE could have physiopathological consequences. On the other hand, the influence of several factors such as age, sex, training, hormonal status, nutrition, anti-inflammatory drugs, and the extent to which IRE could be a potential risk for subjects undergoing intense physical training require further study.