Date of Award

Summer 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Exercise Science

First Advisor

Shawn M. Arent


INTRODUCTION: High-intensity exercise (HIE) can damage the musculotendon complex and impact the immune response, which may result in post-exercise inflammation and reductions in strength and performance. Sufficient rest and recovery will improve muscular resilience against future damaging bouts, however HIE with minimal durations of rest are common in athletic competitions that facilitate persistent inflammation and immune dysregulation. Marine algae-derived fucoidans (MA) have previously shown promise to mitigate pro-inflammatory and immune dysregulation responses, however it has not been investigated in the context of HIE. The purpose of this research is to investigate the safety and efficacy of MA on markers of inflammation and immune response following HIE compared to placebo (PL). It was hypothesized that MA supplementation will reduce inflammatory cytokine concentration and immune cell perturbations. It was also hypothesized that MA supplementation may facilitate exercise performance in a fatiguing HIE protocol.

METHODS: 8 male and 8 female participants (N=16) were randomized into this doubleblind, placebo-controlled, counterbalanced, crossover design study and supplemented with either 1 g/d MA (Undaria pinnatifida) or PL for two weeks. Each supplement period was concluded with a HIE testing session, and one week of washout was allotted between the supplements. HIE testing involved one 30s-Wingate anaerobic test (WAnT) and eight 10sWAnT intervals. Blood was drawn pre-exercise, immediately post-exercise, 30min postexercise, and 60min post-exercise. Serum cytokine concentrations and blood biomarkers were primary outcome measures and exercise peak power (PP) and mean power (MP) over the 30s-WAnT and total exercise session were secondary measures. A 2 (condition) x 4 (time) design with repeated measures on both factors were statistically analyzed. Significance was set at α = 0.05.

RESULTS: Significantly lower post-HIE concentrations of inflammatory and immune cell counts were observed for MA compared to PL, including WBC, lymphocytes, CD4, CD8, IL-6, and IL-10 (P0.05).

DISCUSSION: MA supplementation did not influence exercise performance during HIE, however it did reduce the inflammatory cytokine and immune cell response induced by HIE. There were physiological differences following HIE that allowed for the same total work with less systemic disruption. Future research is needed to determine the specific mechanism of the effect of MA under these conditions.

CONCLUSION: MA supplementation may be a beneficial strategy to mitigate acute postHIE induced inflammation and immune dysregulation in periods where recovery time is limited.

Available for download on Wednesday, April 05, 2023