One night of sleep fragmentation does not affect exercise-induced leukocyte trafficking or mitogen-stimulated leukocyte oxidative burst in healthy men

James Ellis, Ben Lee, James Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study examined whether one night of sleep fragmentation alters circulating leukocyte counts and mitogen-stimulated oxidative burst by leukocytes at rest and in response to an acute bout of vigorous exercise. Methods: In a randomised crossover design, nine healthy men (mean ± SD: age 22 ± 2 years; BMI 24.9 ± 1.9 kg/m2) were exposed to one night of fragmented or uninterrupted sleep before cycling for 45 minutes at 71% ± 4% V̇O2peak. Finger-tip blood samples were collected at rest, immediately post-exercise and one-hour post-exercise. Total leukocytes, lymphocytes, monocytes and neutrophils were counted. Leukocyte oxidative burst was assessed in whole blood by measuring Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) production with luminol-amplified chemiluminescence after stimulation with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA). Results: Exercise elicited the expected trafficking pattern of leukocytes, lymphocytes, monocytes and neutrophils. Compared to rest, PMA-stimulated ROS production was increased one-hour post-exercise (+73% ± 65%; p = 0.019; data combined for fragmented and uninterrupted sleep). There were no statistically significant effects of fragmented sleep on leukocyte, lymphocyte, monocyte, and neutrophil counts or on ROS production at rest, immediately post-exercise or one-hour post-exercise (p > 0.05). However, with fragmented sleep, there was a +10% greater lymphocytosis immediately post-exercise (fragmented +40% ± 37%; uninterrupted +30% ± 35%; p = 0.51) and a –19% smaller neutrophilia by one-hour post-exercise (fragmented +103% ± 88%; uninterrupted +122% ± 131%; p = 0.72). Conclusion: Fragmented sleep did not substantially alter the magnitude or pattern of exercise-induced leukocyte trafficking or mitogen-stimulated oxidative burst by leukocytes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number113506
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Early online date23 Jun 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jun 2021


  • Exercise, Leukocytes, Immune-surveillance, Sleep

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