Exercise and leukocyte interchange among central circulation, lung, spleen, and muscle

Gregory R. Adams, Frank P. Zaldivar, Dwight M. Nance, Einat Kodesh, Shlomit Radom-Aizik, Dan M. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Circulating leukocytes increase rapidly with exercise then quickly decrease when the exercise ends. We tested whether exercise acutely led to bidirectional interchange of leukocytes between the circulation and the lung, spleen, and active skeletal muscle. To accomplish this it was necessary to label a large number of immune cells (granulocytes, monocytes, and lymphocytes) in a way that resulted in minimal perturbation of cell function. Rats were injected intravenously with a single bolus of carboxyfluorescein diacetate succinamidyl ester (CFSE) dye which is rapidly and irreversibly taken up by circulating cells. The time course of the disappearance of labeled cells and their reappearance in the circulation following exercise was determined via flow cytometry. The majority of circulating leukocytes were labeled at 4. h. post-injection and this proportion slowly declined out to 120. h. At both 24 and 120. h, running resulted in an increase in the proportion of labeled leukocytes in the circulation. Analysis of the skeletal muscle, spleen and lung indicated that labeled leukocytes had accumulated in those tissues and were mobilized to the circulation in response to exercise. This indicates that there is an ongoing exchange of leukocytes between the circulation and tissues and that exercise can stimulate their redistribution. Exchange was slower with muscle than with spleen and lung, but in all cases, influenced by exercise. Exercise bouts redistribute leukocytes between the circulation and the lung, spleen and muscle. The modulatory effects of exercise on the immune system may be regulated in part by the systemic redistribution of immune cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)658-666
Number of pages9
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Paul Bodell for his technical contributions. This work was supported by NIH – P01HD048721 and by the UCI NCRR CTSA UL1RR031985 .


  • Lymphocyte
  • Monocyte
  • Neutrophil
  • Running
  • Trafficking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Immunology


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