The effects of bovine colostrum supplementation on in vivo immunity following prolonged exercise: a randomised controlled trial

A. W. Jones, D. S. March, R. Thatcher, B. Diment, N. P. Walsh, Glen Davison

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Background: Bovine colostrum (COL) has been advocated as a nutritional countermeasure to exercise-induced immune dysfunction, but there is a lack of research with clinically relevant in vivo measures. Aim: To investigate the effects of COL supplementation on in vivo immunity following prolonged exercise using experimental contact hypersensitivity (CHS) with the novel antigen diphenylcyclopropenone (DPCP). Methods: In a double-blind design, 31 men were randomly assigned to COL (20 g/day) or placebo (PLA) for 58 days. Participants ran for 2 h at 60% maximal aerobic capacity on day 28 and received a primary DPCP exposure (sensitisation) 20 min after. On day 56, participants received a low-dose-series DPCP challenge to elicit recall of in vivo immune-specific memory (quantified by skinfold thickness 24 and 48 h later). Analysis of the dose–response curves allowed determination of the minimum dose required to elicit a positive response (i.e., sensitivity). Results: There was no difference in summed skinfold thickness responses between COL and PLA at 24 h (p = 0.124) and 48 h (p = 0.405). However, sensitivity of in vivo immune responsiveness was greater with COL at 24 h (p < 0.001) and 48 h (p = 0.023) with doses ~ twofold greater required to elicit a positive response in PLA. Conclusions: COL blunts the prolonged exercise-induced decrease in clinically relevant in vivo immune responsiveness to a novel antigen, which may be a mechanism for reduced illness reports observed in the previous studies. These findings also suggest that CHS sensitivity is highly relevant to host defence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-344
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Contact hypersensitivity
  • Diphenylcyclopropenone
  • Host defence
  • Running
  • Whole integrated immune response

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