BioMedical Engineering OnLine (2012-07-01)

Therapeutic electric stimulation does not affect immune status in healthy individuals – a preliminary report

  • Kopitar Andreja N,
  • Kotnik Vladimir,
  • Vidmar Gaj,
  • Ihan Alojz,
  • Novak Primoz,
  • Stefancic Martin

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 1
p. 42


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Abstract Background Neuromuscular electric stimulation is widely used for muscle strengthening in clinical practice and for preventative purposes. However, there are few reports on the effects of electric stimulation on the immune response of the organism, and even those mainly describe the changes observed immediately after the electrotherapeutic procedures. The objective of our study was to examine the possible immunological consequences of moderate low-frequency transcutaneous neuromuscular electric stimulation for quadriceps muscle strengthening in healthy individuals. Methods The study included 10 healthy volunteers (5 males, 5 females, mean age 37.5 years). At the beginning and after a two-week electric stimulation program, muscle strength was measured and peripheral blood was collected to analyse white blood cells by flow cytometry for the expression of cell surface antigens (CD3, CD19, CD4, CD8, CD4/8, DR/3, NK, Th reg, CD25 + CD3+, CD25 + CD4+, CD25 + CD8+, CD69 + CD3+, CD69 + CD4+, CD69 + CD8+) and phagocytosis/oxidative killing function. Results Muscle strength slightly increased after the program on the dominant and the nondominant side. No statistically or clinically significant difference was found in any of the measured blood and immune cells parameters as well as phagocytosis and oxidative burst function of neutrophil granulocytes and monocytes one day after the program. Conclusions The program of transcutaneous low-frequency electric stimulation slightly strengthened the quadriceps femoris muscle while producing no changes in measured immunological parameters. Hence, therapeutic low-frequency electric stimulation appears not to be affecting the immune response of healthy persons.