Inflammation-induced processes commence with the activation of signalling pathways at the cellular level, which mobilize inflammatory cells and stimulate the secretion of chemokines, cytokines, and damage-associated molecular pattern molecules (DAMPs). Physical effort stimulates inflammation, contributing to muscle repair and regeneration. We have examined the impact of different protocols of progressive-effort tests on T-cell DAMP levels, extracellular cleavage products (fibronectin and hyaluronan), and Th-cell-related cytokine levels among soccer players. Thirty male soccer players with a median age of 17 (16–22) years performed different defined protocols for progressive exercise until exhaustion: (1) YO-YO intermittent recovery test level 1 (YYRL1, n = 10); (2) maximal multistage 20 m shuttle run (Beep, n = 10); and mechanical treadmill (MT, n = 10); and (3) shuttle-run test (n = 10). Blood samples were taken three times as follows: at baseline, post effort, and in recovery. Significantly higher post-effort concentrations of IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, and IFN-γ were observed in the Beep group, IL-4 in the YYRL1 group, and IL-6 and IFN-γ in the MT group as compared with the baseline values. Recovery values were significantly higher for concentrations of IL-4, IL-10, and IFN-γ in the YYRL1 group, only for IFN-γ in the Beep group, and for IL-6, IL-10, and INF-γ in the MT group as compared with the baseline values. Post-effort concentrations of DEFβ2, Hsp27, Fn, and UA in the Beep group and Hsp27 and HA in the YYRL1 group were significantly higher as compared with the baseline values. It seems the performed efficiency test protocols caused a short-term imbalance in Th1/Th2 cytokine levels without giving common molecular patterns. The rapidity of these changes was apparently related to specific physical movements and the type of running surface.
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