Seasonal Analysis of Mucosal Immunological Function and Physical Demands in Professional Australian Rules Footballers

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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To assess match-to-match variations in salivary immunoglobulin A concentration ([s-IgA]) measured at 36 h postmatch throughout an Australian Football League (AFL) premiership season and to assess the trends between 36-h-postmatch [s-IgA] and match-play exercise workloads throughout the same season.


Eighteen elite male AFL athletes (24 ± 4.2 y, 187.0 ± 7.1 cm, 87.0 ± 7.6 kg) were monitored on a weekly basis to determine total match-play exercise workloads and 36-h-postmatch [s-IgA] throughout 16 consecutive matches in an AFL premiership season. Global positioning systems (GPS) with integrated triaxial accelerometers were used to measure exercise workloads (PlayerLoad) during each AFL match. A linear mixed-model analyses was conducted for time-dependent changes in [s-IgA] and player load.


A significant main effect was found for longitudinal postmatch [s-IgA] data (F16,240 = 3.78, P < .01) and PlayerLoad data (F16,66 = 1.98, P = .03). For all matches after and including match 7, a substantial suppression trend in [s-IgA] 36-h-postmatch values was found compared with preseason baseline [s-IgA].


The current study provides novel data regarding longitudinal trends in 36-h-postmatch [s-IgA] for AFL athletes. Results demonstrate that weekly in-season AFL match-play exercise workloads may result in delayed mucosal immunological recovery beyond 36 h postmatch. The inclusion of individual athlete-monitoring strategies of [s-IgA] may be advantageous in the detection of compromised postmatch mucosal immunological function for AFL athletes.

The authors are with the Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia.

Address author correspondence to Sam Coad at