Upper Respiratory Symptoms, Gut Health and Mucosal Immunity in Athletes


March 2018

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Upper respiratory symptoms remain the most common illness in athletes. Upper respiratory symptoms during heavy training and competition may impair performance. Preventing illness is the primary reason for the use of supplements, such as probiotics and prebiotics, for maintaining or promoting gut health and immune function. While exercise-induced perturbations in the immune system may increase susceptibility to illness and infection, growing evidence indicates that upper respiratory symptoms are related to a breakdown in the homeostatic regulation of the mucosal immune system of the airways. Balancing protection of the respiratory tract with normal physiological functioning requires dynamic orchestration between a wide array of immune parameters. The intestinal microbiota regulates extra-intestinal immunity via the common mucosal immune system and new evidence implicates the microbiota of the nose, mouth and respiratory tract in upper respiratory symptoms. Omics’ approaches now facilitate comprehensive profiling at the molecular and proteomic levels to reveal new pathways and molecules of immune regulation. New targets may provide for personalised nutritional and training interventions to maintain athlete health. Sports Med (2018) 48(Suppl 1): 65-77.

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