Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Kinesiology; Immunobiology

First Advisor

Marian Kohut


Safe approaches to enhance vaccine efficacy and promote desired immunological outcomes are continuously being pursued, and vaccine strategies that involve exercise or modulation of metabolic signaling pathways may offer often overlooked solutions. Acute and chronic exercise interventions have been shown to enhance both humoral and cellular immunity following vaccination, but the mechanisms behind such improvements remain to be elucidated. We evaluated the effects of exercise or metabolism-targeting agents on adaptive immunity in three separate studies. The objectives of the first study were to 1) examine the effect of acute exercise coupled with vaccination on draining lymph node dendritic cells as one mechanism through which exercise may exert immunostimulatory effects, 2) evaluate protection induced by this vaccination strategy, and 3) examine antibody responses and memory T cell populations in both sexes. Results suggest potential mechanisms through which exercise coupled with vaccination may mediate the immune response and that these effects may differ by sex. In the second study, we assessed the efficacy of incorporating metabolism-targeting pharmacological agents in a nanoparticle-based vaccine. Our findings demonstrate a potential strategy for enhancing memory T cells following vaccination against respiratory pathogens. In contrast to modulating the metabolism of immune cells through exogenous pharmacological mediators, the third study focused on identifying the extent to which aerobic exercise training alters mitochondrial characteristics and activation-induced ATP production of specific T cell subsets. Results suggest that adaptations to exercise training may extend to the mitochondria of peripheral blood naïve T cells. These findings add to the minimal body of work investigating exercise-induced metabolic alterations within adaptive immune cells. Collectively, this work contributes to the understanding of exercise- and metabolism-mediated modulation of the immune system and provides a foundation for future development of prophylactic and therapeutic interventions.


Copyright Owner

Jessica Alley



File Format


File Size

164 pages

Available for download on Saturday, June 04, 2022