Repetitive cryotherapy attenuates the in vitro and in vivo mononuclear cell activation response

Angus Lindsay, Mohd Izani Othman, Hannah Prebble, Sian Davies, Steven P. Gieseg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


What is the central question of this study? Acute and repetitive cryotherapy are routinely used to accelerate postexercise recovery, although the effect on resident immune cells and repetitive exposure has largely been unexplored and neglected. What is the main finding and its importance? Using blood-derived mononuclear cells and semi-professional mixed martial artists, we show that acute and repetitive cryotherapy reduces the in vitro and in vivo T-cell and monocyte activation response whilst remaining independent of the physical performance of elite athletes. We investigated the effect of repetitive cryotherapy on the in vitro (cold exposure) and in vivo (cold water immersion) activation of blood-derived mononuclear cells following high-intensity exercise. Single and repeated cold exposure (5°C) of a mixed cell culture (T cells and monocytes) was investigated using in vitro tissue culture experimentation for total neopterin production (neopterin plus 7,8-dihydroneopterin). Fourteen elite mixed martial art fighters were also randomly assigned to either a cold water immersion (15 min at 10°C) or passive recovery protocol, which they completed three times per week during a 6 week training camp. Urine was collected and analysed for neopterin and total neopterin three times per week, and perceived soreness, fatigue, physical performance (broad jump, push-ups and pull-ups) and training performance were also assessed. Single and repetitive cold exposure significantly (P < 0.001) reduced total neopterin production from the mixed cell culture, whereas cold water immersion significantly (P < 0.05) attenuated urinary neopterin and total neopterin during the training camp without having any effect on physical performance parameters. Soreness and fatigue showed little variation between the groups, whereas training session performance was significantly (P < 0.05) elevated in the cold water immersion group. The data suggest that acute and repetitive cryotherapy attenuates in vitro T-cell and monocyte activation. This may explain the disparity in in vivo neopterin and total neopterin between cold water immersion and passive recovery following repetitive exposure during a high-intensity physical impact sport that remains independent of physical performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)851-865
Number of pages15
JournalExperimental Physiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

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© 2016 The Authors. Experimental Physiology © 2016 The Physiological Society


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