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

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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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