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Effects of long-term whole-body cold exposures on plasma concentrations of ACTH, beta-endorphin, cortisol, catecholamines and cytokines in healthy females

Authors:
  • Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Oulu

Abstract

Cold therapy is used to relieve pain and inflammatory symptoms. The present study was designed to determine the influence of long-term regular exposure to acute cold temperature. Two types of exposure were studied: winter swimming in ice-cold water and whole-body cryotherapy. The outcome was investigated on humoral factors that may account for pain alleviation related to the exposures. During the course of 12 weeks, 3 times a week, a group of healthy females (n = 10) was exposed to winter swimming (water 0-2 degrees C) for 20 s and another group (n = 10) to whole-body cryotherapy (air -110 degrees C) for 2 min in a special chamber. Blood specimens were drawn in weeks 1, 2, 4, 8 and 12, on a day when no cold exposure occurred (control specimens) and on a day of cold exposures (cold specimens) before the exposures (0 min), and thereafter at 5 and 35 min. Plasma ACTH and cortisol in weeks 4-12 on time-points 35 min were significantly lower than in week 1, probably due to habituation, suggesting that neither winter swimming nor whole-body cryotherapy stimulated the pituitary-adrenal cortex axis. Plasma epinephrine was unchanged during both experiments, but norepinephrine showed significant 2-fold to 3-fold increases each time for 12 weeks after both cold exposures. Plasma IL-1-beta, IL-6 or TNF alpha did not show any changes after cold exposure. The main finding was the sustained cold-induced stimulation of norepinephrine, which was remarkably similar between exposures. The frequent increase in norepinephrine might have a role in pain alleviation in whole-body cryotherapy and winter swimming.
... However, staying too long in an area of reduced temperature causes cell degradation, which can lead to hypothermia [8], pulmonary edema [9,10], and even death. The body's response to cold involves changes in hormones [11,12], cardiovascular system [13], nervous and muscular systems [14], and immune system [11][12][13]15,16]. There are several mechanisms to prevent hypothermia by constricting skin blood vessels, as well as increasing heat production by intensifying metabolism and the appearance of muscle shivering. ...
... However, staying too long in an area of reduced temperature causes cell degradation, which can lead to hypothermia [8], pulmonary edema [9,10], and even death. The body's response to cold involves changes in hormones [11,12], cardiovascular system [13], nervous and muscular systems [14], and immune system [11][12][13]15,16]. There are several mechanisms to prevent hypothermia by constricting skin blood vessels, as well as increasing heat production by intensifying metabolism and the appearance of muscle shivering. ...
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Regular exposure to a cold factor—cold water swimming or ice swimming and cold air—results in an increased tolerance to cold due to numerous adaptive mechanisms in humans. Due to the lack of scientific reports on the effects of extremely low outdoor temperatures on the functioning of the human circulatory system, the aim of this study was to evaluate complete blood count and biochemical blood indices in multiple Guinness world record holder Valerjan Romanovski, who was exposed to extremely cold environment from −5 °C to −37 °C for 50 days in Rovaniemi (a city in northern Finland). Valerjan Romanovski proved that humans can function in extremely cold temperatures. Blood from the subject was collected before and after the expedition. The subject was found to have abnormalities for the following blood indices: testosterone increases by 60.14%, RBC decreases by 4.01%, HGB decreases by 3.47%, WBC decreases by 21.53%, neutrocytes decrease by 17.31%, PDW increases by 5.31%, AspAT increases by 52.81%, AlAT increase by 68.75%, CK increases by 8.61%, total cholesterol decreases by 5.88%, HDL increases by 28.18%. Percentage changes in other complete blood count and biochemical indices were within standard limits. Long-term exposure of the subject (50 days) to extreme cold stress had no noticeable negative effect on daily functioning.
... WBC consists of brief (2-3 min) and repeated exposure to extremely low temperatures in specially designed cryochambers with temperatures ranging from −110 to −160 degrees Celsius. The sudden stimulation of dermal thermoreceptors induces a chain reaction of events ranging from vasoconstriction [43] to slowed nerve conduction velocity of slow conducting C fibers, disabling the sensory receptors as well as their connections with the proprioceptors [44] to pain modulation via inhibitory action in conjunction with the cold-induced release of endorphins [45] and norepinephrine producing an overall analgesic effect. Repeated exposure to WBC seems to reduce the production of pro-inflammatory and oxidative markers, whereas the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative compounds are produced in larger quantities [46,47]. ...
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Pain severity, depression, and sleep disturbances are key targets for FM rehabilitation. Recent evidence suggests that whole-body cryostimulation (WBC) might be an effective add-on treatment in the management of FM. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of an add-on WBC intervention to a multidisciplinary rehabilitation program on pain intensity, depressive symptoms, disease impact, sleep quality, and performance-based physical functioning in a sample of FM patients with obesity. We performed a randomized controlled trial with 43 patients with FM and obesity undergoing a multidisciplinary rehabilitation program with and without the addition of ten 2-min WBC sessions at −110 °C over two weeks. According to our results, the implementation of ten sessions of WBC over two weeks produced additional benefits. Indeed, both groups reported positive changes after the rehabilitation; however, the group that underwent WBC intervention had greater improvements in the severity of pain, depressive symptoms, disease impact, and quality of sleep. On the contrary, with respect to performance-based physical functioning, we found no significant between-group differences. Our findings suggest that WBC could be a promising add-on treatment to improve key aspects of FM, such as pain, depressive symptoms, disease impact and poor sleep quality.
... However, there is a range of individual responses to cold due to inter-individual differences, such as body size, BMI, fitness level, amount of subcutaneous fat, and gender (Castellani and Young, 2016;Gordon, 2001;Gordon et al., 2003). After repeated exposures to WBC the following effects have been measured: improvement of inflammatory and metabolic profile (White and Wells, 2013), enhancement of the antioxidant system , improvement of insulin sensitivity (Hanssen et al., 2016), increase of brown adipose tissue (BAT) volume percentage (Hanssen et al., 2016), decreased percentage of adipose tissue (Więcek et al., 2020), enhanced secretion of endorphins (Leppäluoto et al., 2008), and slowed down nerve conduction velocity (Bouzigon et al., 2021). Given the proven anti-inflammatory, exercise-mimicking effects (Lombardi et al., 2017), it is conceivable that patients affected by dysmetabolic conditions characterized by chronic low-grade inflammation could benefit from this treatment. ...
Article
Currently available treatments for the management of obesity struggle to provide clinically significant weight loss and reduction of the chronic low-grade inflammatory state in order to reduce obesity-related complications. This scoping review aims to provide an up-to-date picture of the therapeutic effects of Whole-Body Cryostimulation (WBC) in patients with obesity and evidence-based indications for its complementary use in the treatment of obesity. We searched the literature until the end of August 2021, retrieving 8 eligible studies out of 856, all evaluated for their methodological quality using the Downs and Black checklist. Overall, the limited data presented in this review article seem to support the efficacy of WBC as an adjuvant treatment in obesity. The cryogenic stimulus has important anti-inflammatory/antioxidant effects and its effectiveness is directly related to the individual percentage of fat mass and initial fitness capacity, mimicking an exercise-induced effect. Based on the limited results gathered, WBC emerges as a promising adjuvant therapy to reduce systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, abdominal obesity, and body mass. However, the data presented in this review article fail to reach definitive conclusions with regards to the efficacy of WBC in the treatment of obesity. Application of WBC protocols yields the potential to widen the therapeutic armor for the treatment of obesity and obesity-related disorders but larger, high-quality studies are still needed.
... 36 However, not all studies have shown this to be the case. 40 The interaction between the nervous system and the endocrine system is complicated and shows much inter-and intra-variability. That aside, both increased cortisol and increased beta-endorphin have been associated with better psychological health. ...
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Background An increasing volume of anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests that mood may be enhanced following swimming in cold water. The exact mechanisms responsible are largely unknown, but may include the effects of exercise from swimming and the effects of cold. This study examined the effect on mood following immersion in cold water, where swimming was not the primary activity. Methods The Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire was completed by 64 undergraduate students. The following week, 42 participants completed up to 20-min immersion (18ʹ36ʺ ± 1ʹ48ʺ) in cold sea water (13.6°C). Twenty-two participants acted as controls. The POMS was completed immediately following the cold-water immersion by both groups. Results The cold-water immersion group showed a significant decrease, with a large effect size, of 15 points from 51 to 36, compared to 2 points in the control group, 42 to 40. Positive sub-scales increased significantly in the cold-water immersion group (Vigour by 1.1, and Esteem-Related Affect by 2.2 points) and negative sub-scales showed significant reductions (Tension by 2.5, Anger 1.25, Depression 2.1, Fatigue 2.2, and Confusion 2.8 points). The control showed no significant change except for depression, which was significantly higher after the period by 1.6 points. Conclusion Cold-water immersion is a well-tolerated therapy that is capable of significantly improving mood in young, fit, and healthy individuals. A key aim of this study was to control for the effects of swimming as a mechanism responsible for the improvement in mood which has been shown in previous studies. Thus, the change in mood evidenced in this study was not due to physical activity per se. Consequently, the hypothesis that cold in and of itself can improve mood is supported.
... The use of cold reduces the inflammatory response in an experimental setting 10 . Morphological and biochemical research carried out after the application of whole-body cryotherapy (-110ºC) increase the level of adrenaline, noradrenaline, ACTH, cortisol, testosterone and lower inflammatory markers such as Biernacki's Reaction (ESR) [11][12][13][14] . The body reacts to cold by changing hormones 15 in the circulatory system 16 , as well as in the nervous system and muscles 17 . ...
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Purpose: The aim of the study was to evaluate morphological, biochemical, and rheological blood indicators in men staying in a cryochamber at a temperature of -50°C for 24 hours. In 2018, a scientific-survival project ‘Taming the Frost’ was conducted at the Technoclimatic Research and Working Machines Laboratory of the Cracow University of Technology, under the scientific patronage of the Rector of the Cracow University of Technology, Prof. Jan Kazior, PhD, as well as the Rector of the University of Physical Education in Krakow, the late Prof. Aleksander Tyka, PhD, and the Vice-Rector for Science, Prof. Anna Marchewka, PhD. Material and methods: The blood for the tests was collected from an ulnar vein in fasting participants by a qualified nurse, in the morning, before entering the cryochamber and after 24 hours, i.e. on leaving the cryochamber. Morphological, biochemical, and rheological blood indicators were evaluated. The study group of the scientific-survival project ‘Taming the Frost’ involved men (n=6) who stayed in a cryochamber at a temperature of -50°C for 24 hours. For each participant, a 5-ml blood sample was placed in a tube (BD Vacutainer) with EDTA K2 anticoagulant for blood morphology and blood rheological evaluations in the Blood Physiology Laboratory of the Central Research and Development Laboratory, University of Physical Education in Krakow. Another 5-ml blood sample was placed in a Vacuette tube with a clotting activator for the remaining biochemical analyses in the Department of Clinical Biochemistry of the Krakow Branch of Maria Skłodowska-Curie National Research Institute of Oncology. Results: After leaving the cryochamber with a temperature of –50°C, the participants presented statistically significant increases in monocyte count and high-density lipoprotein and creatine kinase values, as well as decreases in IgA, total cholesterol, and triglycerides. In the assessment of blood rheological indicators, statistically significant increases in the elongation index at the shear stress of 0.30, 0.58, 1.13, and 2.19 Pa and decreases in the elongation index at the shear stress of 31.03 and 60.3 Pa were observed. For red cell aggregation indicators, a statistically significant increase in total aggregation time was reported. The other indicators exhibited a significance level of p>0.05. Conclusions: Staying in a cryochamber at a temperature of -50°C for 24 hours did not exert a negative impact on morphological, biochemical, or rheological blood indicators, which implies the subjects’ adaptation to the arranged conditions.
... Some authors point out that the circadian alterations of OC may be inverse to the changes in cortisol concentration 42 . Leppäluoto et al. 43 observed in healthy females a slight increase of plasma cortisol levels after first cold exposure (winter swimming and whole-body cryotherapy) and significant decrease in 4-12 weeks of repetitive procedures. These results were probably related to the habituation reaction. ...
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We investigated the effects of single and repeated exposures to whole-body cryotherapy on biomarkers of bone remodeling and osteo-immune crosstalk: sclerostin, osteocalcin (OC), C-terminal cross-linked telopeptide of type I collagen (CTx-I), osteoprotegerin (OPG) and free soluble receptor activator for nuclear factor κ B ligand (sRANKL). The study included 22 healthy males, grouped in high physical fitness level (HPhL) and low physical fitness level (LPhL), all undergone 10 consecutive sessions in a cryogenic chamber (− 110 °C). We observed a significant time-effect on sclerostin ( p < 0.05), OC ( p < 0.01), CTx-I ( p < 0.001), OC/CTx-I ( p < 0.05), and significant differences in sRANKL between the groups ( p < 0.05) after the 1st cryostimulation; a significant time-effect on OC ( p < 0.001) and OC/CTx-I ( p < 0.001) after the 10th cryostimulation, and a significant time-effect on CTx-I ( p < 0.001) and OC/CTx-I ( p < 0.01) after 10 sessions of WBC. In conclusion, in young men, the first exposure to extreme cold induced significant changes in serum sclerostin. The changes in sRANKL, between groups, suggest that fitness level may modify the body's response to cold. The effects of the first stimulus and the whole session are not identical, probably due to the physiological development of habituation to cold.
... Many studies (in both healthy and young and middle-aged people) have shown a relationship between the exposure of the whole body to extremely low temperatures and changes in the levels of selected enzymes and hormones in bodily fluids. Morphological and biochemical tests carried out after the application of cryotherapy have shown an increase in blood serum levels of adrenaline, noradrenaline, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), cortisol, and testosterone (in men) and a decrease in the parameters of inflammatory reactions such as the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), Waaler-Rose test, and seromucoid [14][15][16][17][18]. After several days of stimulation with cryogenic temperatures, patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and physically active people showed an increase in their HGB and PLT levels, increased creatinine levels, and increased glycemia [19,20]. ...
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Abstract: The aim of this study was to examine and assess the impact of a series of 20 whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) treatments on the biochemical and rheological indices of blood in people with multiple sclerosis. In this prospective controlled study, the experimental group consisted of 15 women aged 34-55 (mean age, 41.53 ± 6.98 years) with diagnosed multiple sclerosis who underwent a series of whole-body cryotherapy treatments. The first control group consisted of 20 women with diagnosed multiple sclerosis. This group had no intervention in the form of whole-body cryotherapy. The second control group consisted of 15 women aged 30-49 years (mean age, 38.47 ± 6.0 years) without neurological diseases and other chronic diseases who also underwent the whole-body cryotherapy treatment. For the analysis of the blood indices, venous blood was taken twice (first, on the day of initiation of whole-body cryotherapy treatments and, second, after a series of 20 cryotherapy treatments). The blood counts were determined using an ABX MICROS 60 hematological analyzer (USA). The LORCA analyzer (Laser-Optical Rotational Cell Analyzer, RR Mechatronics, the Netherlands) was used to study the aggregation and deformability of erythrocytes. The total protein serum measurement was performed using a Cobas 6000 analyzer, Roche and a Proteinogram-Minicap Sebia analyzer. Fibrinogen determinations were made using a Bio-Ksel, Chrom-7 camera. Statistically significant differences and changes after WBC in the levels of red blood cells (RBC), hemoglobin (HGB), hematocrit (HCT), elongation index, total extend of aggregation (AMP), and proteins (including fibrinogen) were observed. However, there was no significant effect of a series of 20 WBC treatments on changes in blood counts, rheology, and biochemistry in women with multiple sclerosis. Our results show that the use of WBC has a positive effect on the rheological properties of the blood of healthy women.
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Four patients underwent whole-body cryo-therapy in a Medivent-GKT at −150°C. Fifteen minutes and 5 min before the treatment dopamine, noradrenalin, adrenalin, serotonin, β-endorphin, and Cortisol levels were measured. The same parameters were examined immediately after whole-body cryo-therapy, and then successively in intervals of 15 min up to 105 min. Dopamine, adrenalin, and serotonin levels were measured by the HPLC/ECD method; β-endorphin and Cortisol were measured by the RIA-method.
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Long-distance swimmers swam in 10–14°C water on four days. Responses in blood pressure and rectal temperature were determined every day, and hormonal responses on the third day. Swimming time lengthened with the days and diastolic blood pressure after swimming was significantly lower on the fourth day than on the first day. In rectal temperatures there were great individual variations. Noradrenaline was elevated more in the thin swimmers. A lesser rise in diastolic blood pressure and the longer duration of swimming on the fourth day may point to habituation to the cold.