Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The effects of age and acute aerobic and resistance exercise on circulating T lymphocyte vitamin D receptor (VDR) expression in healthy males

Leggate, Melanie; Florida-James, Geraint; Ross, Mark; Jurevicius, Mindaugas; Duncan, Gary; Lithgow, Hannah


Mark Ross

Mindaugas Jurevicius

Gary Duncan

Hannah Lithgow


A low vitamin D status has been identified as an association risk factor in the etiology of numerous chronic diseases, with older adults identified as generally more deficient than younger populations. Exercise has been shown to act as a direct and indirect stimulus on key vitamin D metabolites, specifically the vitamin D receptor (VDR) (1, 2), however investigations are limited to murine model studies. The primary aim of the study was to determine whether a single bout of exercise upregulated VDR expression in circulating systemic T cells. Thirty-five recreationally active males were included in the study (means ± SD: age 44 ± 17 y, body mass 82.5 ± 11.4 kg, height 1.79 ± 0.08 m, BMI 25.7 ± 3.1 kg·m-2), separated into three age groups: 18-30 y (n=12), 31-45 y (n=11), and 60-75 y (n=12). Participants completed three trials: control (CON; 60 min rest), aerobic exercise (AE; 60 min cycling at 55% work load max) and resistance exercise (RE; repeated maximal voluntary isometric contractions), with intravenous blood samples collected pre- and post-CON/AE/RE (Pre, 0 h, 1 h, 3 h). T cells were isolated and analysed for cell-surface and intracellular T cell (CD3+, CD4+, and CD8+ T cell subsets) VDR expression via flow cytometry analysis. Values are means ± S.D., compared by ANOVA. Intracellular VDR expression (CD3+ T cells) was elevated following both AE (P<0.001) and RE (P=0.001) immediately upon cessation of the exercise, with AE promoting a greater increase compared to RE (1.5 fold vs 1.25 fold increase, respectively; P=0.048). VDR expression returned to baseline level after 3 h post-exercise. There was no difference between T cell subsets. The response was unaffected by age despite baseline VDR expression at rest declining with age (geomean: 882 ± 274 vs 796 ± 243 vs 594 ± 174; P=0.015). Moreover, there was no correlation between change in T cells and change in VDR expression in response to exercise. The results indicate that performing a single bout of exercise is an effective means to increase intracellular VDR expression in T cells. Interestingly, the upregulation in VDR protein expression may be independent of T cell mobilisation in response to exercise, and independent of age.

1. Makanae Y, Ogasawara R, Sato K, Takamura Y, Matsutani K, Kido K, et al. Acute bout of resistance exercise increases vitamin D receptor protein expression in rat skeletal muscle. Exp Physiol. 2015;100(10):1168-76.
2. Aly YE, Abdou AS, Rashad MM, Nassef MM. Effect of exercise on serum vitamin D and tissue vitamin D receptors in experimentally induced type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. J Adv Res. 2016;7(5):671-9.


Leggate, M., Florida-James, G., Ross, M., Jurevicius, M., Duncan, G., & Lithgow, H. (2019, December). The effects of age and acute aerobic and resistance exercise on circulating T lymphocyte vitamin D receptor (VDR) expression in healthy males. Presented at Future Physiology, Liverpool, UK

Presentation Conference Type Speech
Conference Name Future Physiology
Conference Location Liverpool, UK
Start Date Dec 17, 2019
Deposit Date Mar 1, 2023