Interaction between stress and immunity during a week leading to competition in young athletes
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This study examined changes in the salivary concentrations of immunoglobulin A (sIgA), cortisol (sC), testosterone (sT) and testosterone-to-cortisol ratio (T/C) in 23 competitive swimmers, 11-15 years old, during a week leading to competition as compared to a control (non-competitive) week. Results showed no effect of week or day, and no significant week-by-day interaction for sIgA, sC and T/C. In contrast, sT significantly decreased during the week of competition, along with a 7%, non-significant decrease in the weekly T/C. The latter suggests that the swimmers were in a catabolic state due to their training, but this did not have a negative effect on their performance Since sC did not change over the two weeks and according to the sport anxiety scale, competition stress was relatively low in these peri-pubertal athletes, it is concluded that in the absence of high cortisol levels mucosal immunity is unaffected in young athletes prior to competition.