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Background and Objective: High-intensity exercise has been linked to immunity; however, the relationship between low-intensity exercise and the immune system is unclear. In this study, the effects of exercise on cytokine production in T helper 1 (interleukin-2 [IL-2] and interferon-gamma [INF-g]) and T helper 2 cells (interleukin-4 [IL-4]) in spleens were investigated.
Material and Methods: Sprague–Dawley male rats were divided into a control group (CON, n = 10) and a low-intensity exercise group (EX, n = 10). EX rats were trained on a treadmill (8 m/min, 50 min/day, 5 times over 12 weeks). Spleen tissues were analyzed by hematoxylin-eosin staining and real-time PCR to quantify IL-4, INF-g, and IL-2 expression.
Results: IL-4 expression was significantly higher in the EX group than in the CON group (p < 0.05). However, IL-2 and INF-g expression did not differ between groups (p > 0.05).
Conclusion: These results suggest that exercise in rats enhances immune function by regulating cytokine production in T helper type 2 (IL-4) cells, but not in T helper type 1 (IL-2 and IFN-g) cells of the activated spleen.