In the field of athletics, acupuncture has been used for treatment of injury, reduction of fatigue and management of physical condition. However, there is little information on the effect of acupuncture on the immune function in response to exercise. Purpose The aim of this study was to examine the effect of acupuncture treatment on the mucosal immune function after a single period of intense exercise by measuring salivary immunoglobulin A (SlgA). Methods 12 healthy men (23.6 ± SEv 0.3 years) participated in this study with a crossover design. The subjects exercised on a bicycle equipped with an ergometer at 75% VO2max for 60 min. Acupuncture treatment was applied at LU6, LI4, ST36 and ST6, for 30 min after the exercise. The control treatment was rest without acupuncture and that the order of the treatment was randomised. We measured parameters including saliva flow rate, SlgA concentration, SlgA secretion rate, heart rate and plasma catecholamine concentration all before the exercise and at 1 h, 2 h, 3 h, 4 h and 24 h after the exercise. The visual analogue scale for self-perceived tiredness and the profile of mood states questionnaires were recorded before the exercise and at 24 h after the exercise. Result Intense exercise-induced decrease of SlgA levels was attenuated by the acupuncture treatment. In contrast, the subjective fatigue score and psychological measurement were not affected by the acupuncture. Conclusion Acupuncture treatment may attenuate the decrease in SlgA level induced by intense exercise.
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