Neutrophils play an important role in the immune system, forming the "first line of defence" against invading microorganisms and there are few data available concerning neutrophil functions in relation to exercise. We investigated in 7 basketball professional players possible changes before, during and after the sports season, in some haematological parameters and in several aspects of the phagocytic process of neutrophils, such as adhesion, superoxide anion release and bactericidal activity. Training and competitions produced a significant rise in the number of total leukocytes and differential counts, but the values returned to the pre-start levels 3 weeks after the end of the championship. The bactericidal activity and the superoxide anion released were significantly greater during the sports season, while the percentage of cellular adhesion significantly decreased during the championship; after the sports season the values returned to the control levels. As in the literature data concerning neutrophil functions in relation to exercise are non-convergent, it is important in our opinion, to understand whether the alterations induced by exercise can persist after repeated stimuli.
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