Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

The impact of sport related stressors on immunity and illness risk in team-sport athletes

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Deb DulsonORCiD


Full text for this publication is not currently held within this repository. Alternative links are provided below where available.


© 2018 Sports Medicine AustraliaObjectives: Elite team-sport athletes are frequently exposed to stressors that have the potential to depress immunity and increase infection risk. Therefore, the purpose of this review is to describe how team-sport stressors impact upon immune responses, along with exploring whether alterations in these markers have the potential to predict upper respiratory tract illness symptoms. Design: Narrative review. Methods: Salivary secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA) and T-cell markers have been shown to predict infection risk in individual endurance athletes. Papers discussing the impact of team-sport stressors on SIgA and T-cells were discussed in the review, studies discussing other aspects of immunity were excluded. Journal articles were sourced from PubMed, Web of science and Scopus. Key search terms included team-sport athletes, stressors, immunity, T-cells, cytokines, SIgA and upper respiratory illness. Results: Most team-sport stressors appear to increase risk for illness. An association between reduced SIgA and increased illness incidence has been demonstrated. Intensive training and competition periods have been shown to reduce SIgA, however, it is less clear how additional stressors including extreme environmental conditions, travel, psychological stress, sleep disturbance and poor nutrition affect immune responses. Conclusions: Monitoring SIgA may provide an assessment of a team-sport athletes risk status for developing upper respiratory tract symptoms, however there is currently not enough evidence to suggest SIgA alone can predict illness. Team-sport stressors challenge immunity and it is possible that the combination of stressors could have a compounding effect on immunodepression and infection risk. Given that illness can disrupt training and performance, further research is required to better elucidate how stressors individually and collectively influence immunity and illness.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Keaney LC, Kilding AE, Merien F, Dulson DK

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport

Year: 2018

Volume: 21

Issue: 12

Pages: 1192-1199

Online publication date: 15/05/2018

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

ISSN (print): 1440-2440

ISSN (electronic): 1878-1861

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.jsams.2018.05.014

PubMed id: 29934212