Effect of Competition on Salivary Cortisol, Immunoglobulin A, and Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Elite Young Soccer Players

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Abstract

Mortatti, AL, Moreira, A, Aoki, MS, Crewther, BT, Castagna, C, de Arruda, AFS, and Filho, JM. Effect of competition on salivary cortisol, immunoglobulin A, and upper respiratory tract infections in elite young soccer players. J Strength Cond Res 26(5): 1396–1401, 2012—The present study examined the effect of a 20-day period of competition on salivary cortisol, mucosal immunity, and upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) in young male soccer players (n = 14). The players were monitored during the main under-19 Brazilian soccer championship, in which 7 matches were played in 20 days. Saliva samples were collected in the morning of each match and analyzed for cortisol and immunoglobulin A (IgA). Signs and symptoms of URTI were assessed across the study and a rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was obtained for each match. Compared with match 1, a significant increase in player RPE was observed in matches 4–7 (p < 0.05). Significant (p < 0.05) increases in the reporting of URTI occurred between matches 2 and 3, and 6 and 7, and this was accompanied by significant decreases in salivary IgA levels. Significant (p < 0.05) correlations were also seen between the individual reports of URTI and the decrease in IgA levels in match 2 (r = −0.60) and match 6 (r = −0.65). These results suggest that decrements in mucosal immunity, as measured by salivary IgA concentrations, may lead to a greater incidence of URTI in elite young soccer players. It may be speculated that the physiological and psychological stressors imposed by training and competition in a short timeframe are major contributing factors to these responses. Thus, the monitoring of salivary IgA could provide a useful and noninvasive approach for predicting URTI occurrences in young athletes during short-term competitions, especially if frequent sampling and rapid measurements are made.

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