PURPOSE: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients display high levels of oxidative stress. Transient exercise-induced increases in oxidative stress are thought to be adaptive in healthy populations. This study investigated the effect of exercise on markers of oxidative stress in RA, following acute exercise and a period of exercise training.
METHODS: Acute exercise study: RA patients (N = 12, age: 56 ± 11) undertook a bout of exercise (30-40 min, 70 % VO2MAX), and blood samples were taken before and after exercise to assess markers of oxidative stress. Training study: RA patients (N = 19, age: 56 ± 10) were randomised into either a control or exercise group, who undertook 3 exercise sessions per week (30-40 min @70 % VO2MAX) for 3 months. Plasma markers of oxidative stress (protein carbonyls (PC), lipid hydroperoxides (LOOH), 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT), total antioxidant capacity (TAC) and catalase (CAT) activity), inflammation (interleukin-8 (IL-8) and C-reactive protein (CRP)) and nitric oxide metabolites (NOx) were assessed before and after training.
RESULTS: Acute exercise study: Protein carbonyls (PC) (+18 %) and NOx (+27 %) were significantly increased following exercise. Training study: 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT) decreased (2.18 ± 1.78 to 1.10 ± 0.93 μM) in the exercise group only, alongside increases in aerobic fitness (24.45 ± 4.98 to 27.10 ± 4.51 ml/kg/min(-1)) and reductions in disease activity score (DAS: 3.47 ± 1.17 to 2.88 ± 0.76). PC, LOOH, TAC, IL-8, CRP and NOx concentrations, and CAT activity were unchanged in both groups.
CONCLUSIONS: Aerobic exercise training did not increase markers of oxidative stress in RA patients. 3-Nitrotyrosine and disease activity were decreased following exercise training.