Reversal in fatigued athletes of a defect in interferon y secretion after administration of Lactobacillus acidophilus

[Note: “Overtraining syndrome” has many symptoms similar to those of CFS, such as impaired cognition, fatigue, sore throats. “Overtrained” athletes, like CFS patients, are unable to exert themselves to the extent they had previously.] Journal: British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2006. vol. 40, pp. 351-354 Authors and affiliations: R L Clancy, M Gleeson, A Cox, R Callister, M Dorrington, C D’Este, G Pang, D Pyne, P Fricker, A Henriksson. Department of Immunology and Microbiology, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia (Clancy, Callister, D’Este, Pang); Hunter Area Pathology Service, John Hunter Hospital, New Lambton, NSW, Australia (Gleeson, Cox, Dorrington); Australian Institute of Sport, Belconnen, ACT, Australia (Pyne, Ricker); University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia (Henriksson). E-mail: robert.clancy@newcastle.edu.au ] DOI:10.1136/bjsm.2005.024364 Background: Fatigue and impaired performance in athletes is well recognized and has been loosely linked to “overtraining.” Reduced concentration of IgA in the saliva and increased shedding of Epstein Barr virus (EBV) have been associated with intense training in elite athletes. Objective: To determine whether athletes presenting with fatigue and impaired performance had an immune defect relevant to defective containment of EBV infection, and whether a probiotic preparation (Lactobacillus acidophilus) shown to enhance mucosal immunity in animal models could reverse any detected abnormality. Results: The fatigued athletes had clinical characteristics consistent with re-activation of EBV infection and significantly (p = 0.02) less secretion of interferon (IFN) y from blood CD4 positive T cells. After one month of daily capsules containing 2 x 1010 colony forming units of Lactobacillus acidophilus, secretion of IFN y from T cells had increased significantly (p = 0.01) to levels found in healthy control athletes. A significant (p = 0.03) increase in salivary IFN y concentrations in healthy control athletes after the one month course of Lactobacillus acidophilus demonstrated in man the capacity for this probiotic to enhance the mucosal IFN y concentration. Conclusion: This is the first evidence of a T cell defect in fatigued athletes, and of its reversal following probiotic therapy.

Keywords: fatigue; overtraining; Epstein Barr virus re-activation; interferon y deficiency; Lactobacillus acidophilus

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