More MS news articles for May 2002

Exercise “may boost MS patients’ immune system”

02 May 2002
By reporters

An exercise programme designed to reduce the fatigue experienced by people with multiple sclerosis (MS) may have another benefit – US research suggests it could boost patients’ immune systems and reduce inflammation.

According to studies at the University at Buffalo, New York, MS patients involved in a 16-week programme of resistance exercise experienced a decrease in several inflammatory blood components and an increase of certain anti-inflammatory factors.

If inflammation of nerve tissue plays a major role in MS symptoms, as several studies suggest, reducing inflammation could improve patients’ ability to perform daily activities, say the research team.

In the exercise programme, 13 patients used machines or free weights and concentrated on improving muscular strength, endurance and contraction speed in the arms and legs.

Researchers took the patients’ blood samples before and after the programme. Analysis showed a significant rise in anti-inflammatory interleukins 4 and 6 and a decrease in levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines tumour necrosis factor alpha and interleukin 10, researchers told delegates at the annual meeting of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

The team are not yet sure why exercise has this benefit. Lead author Dr Jaya Venkatraman said, “Exercise may alter immune function directly, or it may act indirectly by modifying stress and neuroendocrine factors that may play a role in maintaining optimal immune status during times of illness.”

“Resistance exercise possibly may induce changes in the body’s immune function by lowering levels of cytokines and chemokines, which would modulate inflammation, which in turn would decrease fatigue and improve physical performance,” he added.

Source: University of Buffalo

© Health Media Ltd 2002