High-intensity intermittent exercise induces a potential anti-inflammatory response in healthy women across the menstrual cycle

Luciele Guerra Minuzzi, Fábio Santos Lira, Rodrigo Araújo Bonetti de Poli, Vithor Hugo Fialho Lopes, Alessandro Moura Zagatto, Katsuhiko Suzuki, Barbara M. Antunes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Aim: This observational study aimed to examine cytokine responses to high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) in the follicular and luteal phases of the menstrual cycle. Methods: Fourteen healthy women (24 ± 2 years; body mass index [BMI]: 22.8 ± 1.9 kg⋅m2; maximal oxygen consumption [V̇O2max]: 41.5 ± 4.1 mL⋅kg−1⋅min−1) with regular menstrual cycles were randomly assigned to 4 experimental sessions, 2 during the follicular and 2 during the luteal phase. V̇O2max and maximum aerobic velocity (MAV) were determined prior to the experimental sessions through a graded exercise test during both follicular and luteal phases. Seventy-two hours after having completed the graded exercise test, all participants performed a HIIE session (10 x 1-min sprints with 1 min of rest) at 90% of their MAV. Serum concentrations of TNF-α, IL-6, IL-10 and IL-17 were measured before (Pre), immediately after (Post) and 1 h after (1 h Post) the HIIE sessions. Results: Pre-exercise concentrations of TNF-α and IL-10 were significantly higher in the luteal phase compared to the follicular phase (P < 0.01), with no differences seen on IL-6 and IL-17, demonstrating an altered inflammatory status in the luteal phase. There was a significant interaction for IL-10 concentration (P < 0.01) with reductions in both luteal (Pre vs Post, 95 %CI: 1.086 to 6.156; and Pre vs 1 h Post, 95 %CI: 1.720 to 9.013, P < 0.01) and follicular phase (Pre vs 1 h Post, 95 %CI: 0.502 to 7.842, P < 0.05). Despite no significant phase × time interaction for TNF-α concentration, its concentration at 1 h Post was significantly lower compared to Pre in the luteal phase analysis (Pre vs 1 h Post, 95 %CI: 0.71 to 14.06; P < 0.05). These results are in agreement with IL-10 responses, highlighting a reduction on the inflammatory status after exercise. Conclusion: Mostly during the luteal phase, high-intensity intermittent exercise modulates cytokine responses, thus impacting exercise recovery. In this scenario, high-intensity intermittent exercise emerges as a non-pharmacology strategy to regulate inflammatory responses on healthy women who were affected by an inflammatory state given their menstrual cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Article number155872
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jun


  • Follicular phase
  • Inflammation
  • Luteal phase
  • Menstrual phase
  • Physical exercise
  • Woman

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Biochemistry
  • Hematology
  • Molecular Biology


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