Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Featured PhD Programmes
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Featured PhD Programmes

Interrogating the redox environment within immune cells following bouts of exercise in humans

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences

About the Project

A session of moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise exerts powerful physiological effects that result in the redistribution of immune cells throughout the body. This response is not uniform, with neutrophils, natural killer cells and cytotoxic T-cells with high effector functions being preferentially mobilised. This non-uniform pattern is highly functional, and likely underpins the capacity of exercise to reduce inflammation and survey the body for foreign antigens and tumorigenic cells. These immunological changes are known to be driven by sensitivity to changes in catecholamines concentrations during exercise; however, recent work also indicates that certain immune cell populations are sensitive to the redox environment within blood (PMID: 29648517 and 27974950). For example, the peripheral blood lymphocyte pool becomes transiently reductive after exhaustive exercise, indicated by increased intracellular reduced thiol availability within both T-helper and cytotoxic T-cell pools (PMID: 29648517). Highly reductive cytotoxic T-cells in the circulation after exercise have a phenotypic signature indicative of secondary lymphoid homing, supporting the notion of redox-driven immunosurveillance. However, the physiological and cellular basis of these responses are far from clear. By incorporating thiol reactive probes into imunophenotyping panels, this PhD programme will investigate the impact of exercise on the redox-driven activation, homing and cytoxicity of immune cell populations. Interrogation of the redox environment within immune cells in response to exercise will add important mechanistic insight into the power of exercise to regulate immunity. The potential candidate would ideally have experience with laboratory techniques such as flow cytometry, as well as human exercise testing procedures.

Funding Notes

I welcome applications from Home/EU and overseas students. The University of Birmingham offers a number of competitive scholarships for students of the highest calibre. Further details are available at : View Website.

Students are also welcome to apply with their own funding for this project, either through their own personal funds or by securing a scholarship.


1. Wadley, A. J. et al. Preliminary evidence of reductive stress in human cytotoxic T-cells following exercise. J. Appl. Physiol. (2018). PMID: 29648517

2. Sakelliou, A. et al. Evidence of a Redox-Dependent Regulation of Immune Responses to Exercise-Induced Inflammation. Oxidative Med. 1–19 (2016). PMID: 27974950

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