Nicolette (Lettie) completed her PhD investigating nutritional influences on the immune response to exercise at the University of Birmingham, supervised by Professor Mike Gleeson. On completion of her PhD in June 2000, Lettie joined Loughborough University as a Research Associate with the Human Muscle Metabolism Research Group under the leadership of Professor Clyde Williams. In September 2000, Lettie became a Lecturer in Exercise Physiology, becoming Senior Lecturer in 2007, Reader in December 2014, and was appointed to her current position in the School as a Professor of Exercise Immunology in April 2020.

Lettie’s research interests span the effects of exercise on immunity, inflammation and infection in the general population and those with specific long-term conditions, to the impacts of exercise on immune cell function and infection risk in elite athletes. She has recently been awarded project funding from Heart Research UK, the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society, and Yakult Honsha. Lettie retains her interest in performance sport and collaborates with the English Institute of Sport on joint-funded projects aiming to maximise performance health. 

Lettie has been PI and Co-I for grant funding of over £2.5 million and is a core investigator in the Lifestyle Theme of the £11.6 million National Institute of Health Research-funded Leicester Biomedical Research Centre. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, editorials, book chapters and review articles in the area of exercise immunology, including as a co-author of the 2013 and 2017 International Society of Exercise and Immunology Consensus Statements. Lettie is Chair of the UK Society for Exercise Immunology. From July 2013-June 2020 Lettie was an Associate Editor for Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise with responsibility for manuscript submissions in the area of exercise, immune function and inflammation, and now sits on the journal Editorial Board.

Over the past twenty years, Lettie has developed her research programme from a keen interest in the effects of exercise on immune cell function and infection risk in elite athletes to a sustainable programme of internationally recognised research investigating the impacts of exercise on systemic and mucosal immunity, chronic systemic inflammation and infection in those with specific long-term conditions. Recent and current research includes investigations of the relationships between an active lifestyle and markers of immune function and chronic inflammation in patients with kidney disease and those with Axial Spondyloarthropathy (ankylosing spondylitis) with colleagues at University Hospitals Leicester. Her work with colleagues in the Leicester Kidney Lifestyle team was highly commended at the Da Vinci Health Technology awards in March 2010 and the Loughborough University Enterprise Awards in 2014. Lettie also has a strong interest in translating knowledge from healthy individuals to populations with impaired immune function and as such is currently investigating novel systemic and mucosal immune markers to assess the impact of physical activity on immune and inflammatory status in healthy adults and those with other chronic conditions associated with impaired immune function and chronic inflammation. Lettie is a core investigator in the Lifestyle Theme of the £11.6 million National Institute of Health Research-funded Leicester Biomedical Research Centre and since June 2017 has been Theme Lead for the School research theme in Lifestyle for Health and Wellbeing.

Selected Recent Research Projects and Sources of Funding

  • April 2020-March 2022 (awarded March 2020). Daily intake of Lactobacillus casei Shirota (LcS) modulates intestinal permeability and decreases circulating levels of endotoxin that associate with both cardiovascular and all-cause mortality in haemodialysis (HD) patients. Yakult Honsha Co Ltd Japan, (PI for Loughborough, with Prof James Burton and Dr Daniel March (University Hospitals Leicester).
  • Mar 2019-Sept 2020 (awarded Sept 2018). National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society. Exercise as an anti‐inflammatory treatment in Axial Spondyloarthritis (axSpA) – a proof of concept study (PI, with Dr Moorthy Arumugam and Dr Andrew Keat)
  • Sept 2016-Sept 2019 (awarded Dec 2015). Heart Research UK. Reducing cardiovascular disease risk in kidney transplant recipients: A three-arm feasibility study to establish the viability of an RCT of moderate and higher intensity exercise. (PI with Prof Alice Smith, Dr Clare Stevinson and Dr James Burton)
  • Jan 2016-Dec 2020 (awarded Oct 2015). English Institute of Sport.  Factors affecting iron status and hepcidin in elite athletes (£40 000, PI).
  • Chair, UK Society for Exercise Immunology
  • Editorial Board Member, Medicine and Science and Sports and Exercise
  • Honorary Associate Professor, Department of Respiratory Sciences, College of Life Sciences, University of Leicester
  • Scientific Committee Member; International Transplantoux

Selected Invited Conference Keynote and Speaker Presentations

  • Feb 2020        ‘Impacts of physical activity on the immune system’ International Transplantoux Symposium, Leuven, Belgium
  • Nov 2019       ‘Exercise and immune function in elite athletes’ British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences Annual Conference, Leicester, UK
  • Oct 2019        ‘Influence of exercise training on immune function in chronic conditions; implications for haemopoietic Stem Cell transplant recipients’  UK Rehabilitation in Haemopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Symposium, Maidstone, Kent, UK
  • Feb 2019        ‘Exercise training and the immune system; implications for transplant recipients’ International Transplantoux Symposium, Leuven, Belgium
  • May 2018       ‘The anti-inflammatory potential of exercise’. Invited Expert Researcher Symposia, Instituto Universitário da Maia, Porto, Portugal.
  • May 2018       ‘Minimising illness in Athletes’ Invited Expert Researcher Symposia, Instituto Universitário da Maia, Porto, Portugal.         
  • Sept 2017      ‘The effect of exercise on inflammation’. Annual Meeting, British Spondyloarthropathy Association, Birmingham, U.K

Featured publications

  • Highton PJ, White AEM, Nixon DGD, Wilkinson TJ, Neale J, Martin N, Bishop NC, Smith AC. Influence of acute moderate- to high-intensity aerobic exercise on markers of immune function and microparticles in renal transplant recipients. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2020;318(1):F76‐F85. doi:10.1152/ajprenal.00332.2019
  • Wadley AJ, Cullen T, Vautrinot J, Keane G, Bishop NC, Coles SJ. High intensity interval exercise increases the frequency of peripheral PD-1+ CD8+ central memory T-cells and soluble PD-L1 in humans. Brain Behav Immun Health. 2020;3:100049. doi:10.1016/j.bbih.2020.100049
  • Highton PJ, Goltz FR, Martin N, Stensel DJ, Thackray AE, Bishop NC. (2019) Microparticle Responses to Aerobic Exercise and Meal Consumption in Healthy Men. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 51(9):1935-1943. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001985.
  • Highton PJ, Martin N, Smith AC, Burton JO, Bishop NC. (2018) Microparticles and exercise in clinical populations. Exercise Immunology Review 24: 46-58
  • Dungey M, Young HML, Churchward DR, Burton JO, Smith AC, Bishop NC (2017) Regular exercise during haemodialysis promotes an anti-inflammatory leukocyte profile. Clinical Kidney Journal doi: 10.1093/ckj/sfx015 
  • Bermon S, Castell LM, Calder PC, Bishop NC, Blomstrand E, Mooren FC, Krüger K, Kavazis AN, Quindry JC, Senchina DS, Nieman DC, Gleeson M, Pyne DB, Kitic CM, Close GL, Larson-Meyer DE, Marcos A, Meydani SN, Walsh NP, Nagatomi R. (2017) Consensus Statement Immunonutrition and Exercise. Exercise Immunology Review 23:8-50.
  • Viana JL., Kosmadakis, G.C, Watson, E L., Bevington, A., Feehally, J., Bishop, NC. Smith AC. (2014) Evidence for anti-inflammatory effects of exercise. Journal of the American Society for Nephrology April 3, 2014, doi:10.1681/ASN.2013070702
  • Bishop NC, Hayashida H, Clark M, Coombs C, Miller S, Stensel DJ. (2013) Effect of acute and regular exercise on growth hormone secretagogue receptor-1a expression in human lymphocytes, T cell subpopulation and monocytes. Brain Behaviour and Immunity, pii: S0889-1591(13)00472-8, doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2013.09.017.
  • Gleeson M, Bishop NC, Walsh NP (Eds.) (2013) Exercise Immunology, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge
  • Gleeson M, Bishop NC. (2013). URTI in athletes: Are mucosal immunity and cytokine responses key risk factors?  Exercise and Sports Science Reviews, 41(3), 148-153, doi: 10.1097/JES.0b013e3182956ead
  • Bishop NC. (2012) Overcoming microbial hurdles: Keeping the Olympics infection free.  Future Microbiology 7, 913-915, 2012
  • Gleeson M, Bishop NC, Stensel DJ, Lindley MR, Mastana SS, & Nimmo M. A. (2011). The anti-inflammatory effects of exercise: mechanisms and implications for the prevention and treatment of disease. Nature Reviews Immunology, 11(9), 607-615. doi:10.1038/nri3041
  • Walsh NP, Gleeson M, Shephard RJ, Gleeson M, Woods JA, Bishop NC, Fleshner M, Green C, Pedersen BK, Hoffman-Goetz L, Rogers CJ, Northoff H, Abbasi A and Simon P. (2011) Position Statement Part One: Immune Function and Exercise. Exercise Immunology Review 17: 6-63.
  • Bishop NC, Walker GJ, Gleeson M, Wallace FA, and Hewitt CRA. (2009) Human T lymphocyte migration towards the supernatants of Human Rhinovirus infected airway epithelial cells: Influence of exercise and carbohydrate intake. Exercise Immunology Review, 15, 42-59.
  • Bishop NC, Walker GJ, Bowley LA, Evans KF, Molyneux K, Wallace FA, & Smith AC. (2005). Lymphocyte responses to influenza and tetanus toxoid in vitro following intensive exercise and carbohydrate ingestion on consecutive days. Journal of Applied Physiology, 99(4), 1327-1335. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00038.2005