Exercise may be an effective anti-inflammatory therapy in pre-dialysis patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), according to a study published online in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

João L. Viana, from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the effects of acute and regular moderate-intensity aerobic exercise on neutrophil degranulation (elastase release), activation of T lymphocytes (CD69 expression) and monocytes (CD86 and HLA-DR expression), and plasma inflammatory markers (interleukin [IL]-6, IL-10, soluble tumor necrosis factor receptors, and C-reactive protein) in patients with pre-dialysis CKD.

The researchers found that a single 30 minute (acute) walking session induced a normal pattern of leukocyte mobilization and had no effect on T lymphocyte and monocyte activation. Acute exercise also induced a systemic anti-inflammatory response, evidenced by a marked increase in plasma IL-10 levels, and was likely tempered by increased plasma IL-6 levels, which peaked immediately post-exercise.

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There were anti-inflammatory effects (reduction in the ratio of plasma IL-6 to IL-10 levels) and a down-regulation of T lymphocyte and monocyte activation associated with six months of regular walking exercise (30 minutes/day, five times/week). However, regular walking had no effect on circulating immune cell numbers, neutrophil degranulation responses, renal function, proteinuria, or blood pressure.

“These findings provide compelling evidence that walking exercise is safe with regard to immune and inflammatory responses and has the potential to be an effective anti-inflammatory therapy in pre-dialysis CKD,” the authors write.