Original article| Volume 95, ISSUE 2, P297-302, February 2014

Low-Grade Systemic Inflammation and Leptin Levels Were Improved by Arm Cranking Exercise in Adults With Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

Published:September 23, 2013DOI:



      To ascertain the effect of arm cranking exercise on improving plasma levels of inflammatory cytokines and adipokines in untrained adults with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI).


      Longitudinal study.


      Community-based supervised intervention.


      Men (N=17) with complete SCI at or below T5 volunteered for this study. Participants were randomly allocated to the intervention (n=9) or control group (n=8) using a concealed method.


      A 12-week arm cranking exercise program of 3 sessions per week consisted of warm-up (10–15min), arm crank (20–30min; increasing 2min and 30s every 3wk) at a moderate work intensity of 50% to 65% of heart rate reserve (starting at 50% and increasing 5% every 3wk), and cool-down (5–10min).

      Main Outcome Measures

      Plasma levels of leptin, adiponectin, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and interleukin-6 were determined. Furthermore, physical fitness (maximum oxygen consumption [ V ˙ O2max]) and body composition (anthropometric index, waist circumference, and body mass index) were also assessed.


      Plasma levels of leptin, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and interleukin-6 were significantly decreased after the completion of the training program. Similarly, the anthropometric index and waist circumference were diminished too. A moderate correlation was found between leptin and the anthropometric index. Finally, V ˙ O2max was significantly increased, suggesting an improvement of physical fitness in the intervention group. No changes were found in the control group.


      Arm cranking exercise improved low-grade systemic inflammation by decreasing plasma levels of inflammatory cytokines. Furthermore, it also reduced plasma leptin levels. Long-term, well-conducted studies are still required to determine whether these changes may improve clinical outcomes of adults with chronic SCI.


      List of abbreviations:

      AI (anthropometric index), BMI (body mass index), IL-6 (interleukin-6), PAI-1 (plasminogen activator inhibitor-1), SCI (spinal cord injury), TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor-alpha), V˙o2max (maximum oxygen consumption), WC (waist circumference)
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