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Effect of Aquatic Exercise on Inflammation and Stress in Fibromyalgia

  [ 12 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • January 29, 2014

Editor's comment: Neutrophils are the most abundant type of white blood cells in the human body. They undergo a process called chemotaxis, which allows them to migrate toward sites of infection or inflammation. IL-8 (interleukin-8) is a small cytokine, or signaling protein, that helps guide the neutrophils. Noradrenaline (also known as norepinephrine) acts as a hormone and a neurotransmitter, affecting the parts of the brain where attention and responses are controlled and plays a significant role in the fight-or-flight response.  This study found that neutrophils, IL-8 and noradrenaline were all reduced in FM patients who took part in regular aquatic exercise for eight months, indicating a reduction in inflammation and stress which corresponded with symptom improvement.  

An exploratory study of the effect of regular aquatic exercise on the function of neutrophils from women with fibromyalgia: Role of IL-8 and noradrenaline.

By M.E. Bote, et al.


Fibromyalgia (FM) syndrome is associated with elevated systemic inflammatory and stress biomarkers, and an elevated innate cellular response mediated by monocytes and neutrophils. Exercise is accepted as a good non-pharmacological therapy for FM. We have previously found that regular aquatic exercise decreases the release of inflammatory cytokines by monocytes from FM patients. However, its effects on the functional capacity of neutrophils have not been studied.

The aim of the present exploratory study was to evaluate, in 10 women diagnosed with FM, the effect of an aquatic exercise program (8 months, 2 sessions/week, 60 min/session) on their neutrophils' function (phagocytic process), and on IL-8 and NA as potential inflammatory and stress mediators, respectively. A control group of 10 inactive FM patients was included in the study.
  • After 4 months of the exercise program, no significant changes were observed in neutrophil function (chemotaxis, phagocytosis, or fungicidal capacity) or in IL-8 and NA.

  • However, at the end of the exercise program (8 months), a neuro-immuno-endocrine adaptation was observed, manifested by a significant decrease to values below those in the basal state in neutrophil chemotaxis, IL-8, and NA.

  • No significant seasonal changes in these parameters were observed during the same period in the group of non-exercised FM patients.

  • After the 8 months of the exercise program, the FM patients had lower concentrations of IL-8 and NA together with reduced chemotaxis of neutrophils compared with the values determined in the same month in the control group of non-exercised FM women.

These results suggest that "anti-inflammatory" and "anti-stress" adaptations may be contributing to the symptomatic benefits that have been attributed to regular aquatic exercise in FM syndrome, as was corroborated in the present study by the scores on the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Source: Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, November 17, 2014. By M.E. Bote, J.J. García, M.D. Hinchado and E. Ortega. Immunophysiology Research Group, Department of Physiology, Science Faculty, University of Extremadura, Spain.

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