Running against health. How a marathon affects the immune system

running effects on the immune system

Zurich Marató Barcelona 2009

B2SLab is currently studying the impact of intense running on the immune system through several Bioinformatics approaches. What makes it more exciting is that the research aims to identify which genes are expressed in response to endurance running, and to which pathways these genes belong. This would reveal the foremost risks to which elite runners are commonly exposed.

This endeavour is part of SUMMIT Project, which stands for Salut en les UltraMaratons i els seus liMITs (‘Health in Ultra Marathons and its limits’), started off in 2012 and led by biochemist and elite runner Emma Roca. Our team works in collaboration with the Genomics of Complex Diseases Unit and Immunology Laboratory of the Institute of Biomedical Research of Sant Pau (IIB Sant Pau); the Service of Pneumology of St. Pau; the University of Girona (UdG) and Zurich Marathon.

We are responsible for carrying out the Bioinformatics analysis of gene expression and the linear and non-linear analysis of heart rate variability signals of the runners. Through advanced statistical techniques of enrichment, we hope to determine which parts of human biology are affected and how.

Our main asset will be the data collected from hundred volunteers in the Zurich Marathon, which takes place on 13th of March. Fifty men and fifty women will undertake a series of physiological, biochemical and cardiac state evaluations during and after the race. First, two days before to know their base state; second, at the end of the marathon; and, finally, two days after to record their recovery. Urine, blood and saliva samples will be collected in each of them.

We can assert that too much running has negative effects on the immune system, but to know how bad is it we must wait for the results. Stay in touch for conclusions.