Exercise Benefits in Chronic Graft versus Host Disease: A Murine Model Study

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Chronic graft versus host disease (cGVHD) is a life-threatening complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation that generates considerable morbidity and compromises the physical capacity of patients. We determined the effects of an exercise training program performed after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation on clinical and biological variables in a minor histocompatibility antigen–driven murine model of cGVHD treated with cyclosporine A.


Recipient BALB/C female mice (age 8 wk) received bone marrow cells and splenocytes from donor B10.D2 male mice and were randomly assigned to an exercise (n = 11) or control group (n = 12). For approximately 11 wk after transplant, the exercise group completed a moderate-intensity treadmill program. Variables assessed were clinical severity scores, survival, physical fitness, cytokine profile, immune cell reconstitution, molecular markers of muscle exercise adaptations, and histological scores in affected tissues.


Exercise training increased survival (P = 0.011), diminished total clinical severity scores (P = 0.002), improved physical fitness (P = 0.030), and reduced blood IL-4 and tumor necrosis factor α levels (P = 0.03), while increasing circulating B220 (P = 0.008) and CD4 lymphocytes (P = 0.043).


A moderate-intensity exercise program that mimics widely accepted public health recommendations for physical activity in human adults was well tolerated and positive effects on survival as well as on clinical and biological indicators of cGVHD.

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