Association between circulating inflammatory markers and marksmanship following intense military training

Yftach Gepner, J. R. Hoffman*, M. W. Hoffman, H. Zelicha, H. Cohen, I. Ostfeld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction Intense military operations during deployment or training are associated with elevations in inflammatory cytokine markers. However, the influence of an inflammatory response on military-specific skills is unclear. This study examined the association between brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), glial fibrillar acidic protein, markers of inflammation, marksmanship and cognitive function following a week of intense military field training. Methods Twenty male soldiers (20.1±0.6 years; 1.78±0.05m; 74.1±7.9kg) from the same elite combat unit of the Israel Defense Forces volunteered to participate in this study. Soldiers completed a five-day period of intense field training including navigation of 27.8km/day with load carriages of ∼50% of their body mass. Soldiers slept approximately fivehours per day and were provided with military field rations. Following the final navigational exercise, soldiers returned to their base and provided a blood sample. In addition, cognitive function assessment and both dynamic and static shooting (15 shots each) were performed following a 200 m gauntlet, in which soldiers had to use hand-to-hand combat skills to reach the shooting range. Results Results revealed that tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) concentrations were inversely correlated with dynamic shooting (r=-0.646, p=0.005). In addition, a trend (r=0.415, p=0.098) was noted between TNF-α concentrations and target engagement speed (ie, time to complete the shooting protocol). BDNF concentrations were significantly correlated with the Serial Sevens Test performance (r=0.672, p=0.012). Conclusion The results of this investigation indicate that elevated TNF-α concentrations and lower BDNF concentrations in soldiers following intense military training were associated with decreases in marksmanship and cognitive function, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-394
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the Royal Army Medical Corps
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • BDNF
  • GFAP
  • cytokines
  • inflammation
  • soldiers


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