Heat stress, gastrointestinal permeability and interlukin-6 signalling: Implications for exercise performance and fatigue

Nicole Vargas, Francesco Marino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
49 Downloads (Pure)


Exercise in heat stress exacerbates performance decrements compared to normothermic environments. It has been documented that the performance decrements are associated with reduced efferent drive from the central nervous system (CNS), however, specific factors that contribute to the decrements are not completely understood. During exertional heat stress, blood flow is preferentially distributed away from the intestinal area to supply the muscles and brain with oxygen. Consequently, the gastrointestinal barrier becomes increasingly permeable, resulting in the release of lipopolysaccharides (LPS, endotoxin) into the circulation. LPS leakage stimulates an acutephase inflammatory response, including the release of interleukin (IL)-6 in response to an increasingly endotoxic environment. If LPS translocation is too great, heat shock, neurological dysfunction, or death may ensue. IL-6 acts initially in a pro-inflammatory manner during endotoxemia, but can attenuate the response through signaling the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA)-axis. Likewise, IL-6 is believed to be a thermoregulatory sensor in the gut during the febrile response, hence highlighting its role in periphery ' to ' brain communication. Recently, IL-6 has been implicated in signaling the CNS and influencing perceptions of fatigue and performance during exercise. Therefore, due to the cascade of events that occur during exertional heat stress, it is possible that the release of LPS and exacerbated response of IL-6 contributes to CNS modulation during exertional heat stress. The purpose of this review is to evaluate previous literature and discuss the potential role for IL-6 during exertional heat stress to modulate performance in favor of whole body preservation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240–251
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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