Regional and time course differences in sweat cortisol, glucose, and select cytokine concentrations during exercise


April 2023

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Introduction: The use of sweat as a biofluid for non-invasive sampling and diagnostics is a popular area of research. However, concentrations of cortisol, glucose, and cytokines have not been described across anatomical regions or as time progresses throughout exercise.

Purpose: To determine regional and time course differences in sweat cortisol, glucose, and select cytokines (EGF, IFN-γ, IL-1β, IL-1α, IL-1ra, TNF-α, IL-6, IL-8, and IL-10).

Methods: Sweat was collected with absorbent patches from eight subjects (24-44 y; 80.2 ± 10.2 kg) on the forehead (FH), right dorsal forearm (RDF), right scapula (RS), and right triceps (RT) at 0-25 min, 30-55 min, and 60-85 min during 90 min of cycling (~ 82% HRmax) in a heated chamber (32 °C, 50% rh). ANOVA was used to determine the effect of site and time on outcomes. Data are reported as LS means ± SE.

Results: There was a significant effect of location on sweat analyte concentrations with FH having higher values than most other regions for cortisol (FH: 1.15 ± 0.08 ng/mL > RDF: 0.62 ± 0.09 ng/mL and RT: 0.65 ± 0.12 ng/mL, P = 0.02), IL-1ra (P < 0.0001), and IL-8 (P < 0.0001), but lower concentrations for glucose (P = 0.01), IL-1α (P < 0.0001), and IL-10 (P = 0.02). Sweat IL-1β concentration was higher on the RS than RT (P < 0.0001). Sweat cortisol concentration increased (25 min: 0.34 ± 0.10 ng/mL < 55 min: 0.89 ± 0.07 ng/mL < 85 min: 1.27 ± 0.07 ng/mL; P < 0.0001), while EGF (P < 0.0001), IL-1ra (P < 0.0001), and IL-6 (P = 0.02) concentrations decreased over time.

Conclusion: Sweat analyte concentrations varied with time of sampling and anatomical region, which is essential information to consider when conducting future work in this area.

Eur J Appl Physiol. (2023) 23(8):1727-1738

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