Int J Sports Med 1997; 18: S84-S90
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-972704

© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Effects of Food Restriction in Military Training on T-Lymphocyte Responses

T. R. Kramer, R. J. Moore, R. L. Shippee, K. E. Friedl, L. Martinez-Lopez, M. M. Chan, E. W. Askew
  • USDA, Carotenoid Research Unit. Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Beltsville, MD
  • US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, MA
  • Department of Family Practice and Community Medicine, Martin Army Community Hospital, Fort Benning, GA
  • Department of Laboratory Medicine, Children's Hospital, National Medical Center, Washington, DC, U.S.A.
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Publication History

Publication Date:
09 March 2007 (online)

In a stress model which included food restriction, we examined the effects of physically rigorous military training and increased caloric intake on T-lymphocyte responses and lymphocyte subsets. T-lymphocyte proliferation and release of soluble receptor for interleukin-2 (s1L-2R) in vitro were measured in two separate training classes of male U.S. Army ranger course (RC) trainees at the start and during the RC. Trainees in group 1 (n = 55) and 2 (n = 50), respectively, had mean (± SD) energy intakes of 11.8 ± 7.0 and 13.6 ± 6.7 MJ/d, averaged totaI daily energy expenditures of 16.7 and 17.6 MJ/d, and experienced body weight losses of 15.6 % and 12.6 %. Both groups showed decreased T-lymphocyte responses in vitro: proliferation to phytohemagglutinin (PHA) and tetanus toxoid (TT), and released s1L-2R to PHA. Croup 2 with an intended 15 % increase in energy during the RC over group 1 showed 22 % and 26 % less severe suppressions of T-lymphocyte proliferation and released s1L-2R, respectively, in vitro. Croup 2 also showed that short-term (9 days) removal of the food restriction stressor allowed for corrected body weight, total lymphocyte and T-lymphocyte subset counts but not suppressed T-lymphocyte responses in vitro. These results demonstrate that soldiers in physically rigorous military training are at risk of suppressed T-lymphocyte immunocompetence, and this is greater if they also experience inadequate energy intake.