Mucosal immune function comparison between amenorrheic and eumenorrheic distance runners

Kazuhiro Shimizu*, Natsumi Suzuki, Mariko Nakamura, Katsuji Aizawa, Tomoko Imai, Satomi Suzuki, Nobuhiko Eda, Yukichi Hanaoka, Kikuko Nakao, Naoto Suzuki, Noboru Mesaki, Ichiro Kono, Takao Akama

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined the effects of amenorrhea on mucosal immune function and susceptibility to upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) in elite female distance runners. Based on their menstrual cycles during the prior year, 21 elite, collegiate, female distance runners were designated as eumenorrheic runners (ERs; n = 8; 19.9 ± 0.8 years) or amenorrheic runners (ARs; n = 13; 20.0 ± 0.3 years). Resting saliva and blood samples were collected in the morning. The secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA) concentration was measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The SIgA secretion rate was calculated. Serum 17b-estradiol concentrations and serum progesterone concentrations were measured using radioimmunoassay. Subjects reported the appearance of URTI symptoms (sore throat, headache, runny nose, coughing, or fever), if any, during the prior month. The serum estradiol concentration and salivary SIgA secretion rate were significantly lower for ARs than for ERs (p < 0.05). Serum progesterone concentration was not significantly different between groups. Higher frequencies of headache, runny nose, coughing, and fever were observed in ARs than in ERs. Results show that athletic amenorrhea with low estrogen might accelerate downregulation of mucosal immune function in athletes and enhance susceptibility to infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1402-1406
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of strength and conditioning research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012 May


  • Athletic amenorrhea
  • Female hormone
  • Infection
  • Secretory immunoglobulin A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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