The Musculoskeletal Exercise Immunology Labs eeks to understand the systemic response of a variety of biomarkers (such as cytokines and myokines) to either acute exercise bouts or chronic exercise training of the musculoskeletal system. Predominantly our lab is focused on using resistance based exercise and training to delineate the acute and chronic changes that can be detected in the systemic blood response of a variety of biomarkers associated with musculoskeletal conditions (sarcopenia and osteoarthritis). The lab hopes to help determine how these biomarkers respond to exercise interventions and whether these biomarkers could be considered as an “exercise factor” for producing the health benefits associated with resistance exercise training.


  • Rooms 240 & 232 Applied Research Centre
    2nd floor, Athletic Living Centre
    University of Manitoba
    Winnipeg, MB
    R3T 2N2

Areas of focus

The lab's primary investigator, Dr. Stephen Cornish, utilizes enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) technology as well as multiplexing technology to analyze the blood biomarkers of interest for a variety of exercise interventions of an acute or chronic nature. The laboratory is furnished with fully operational hematology equipment to completely process blood samples and includes: a phlebotomy station, a temperature controlled centrifuge, a -80°C freezer, a 4°/-20°C refrigerator, a microplate washer, a microplate absorbance reader, a multiplex reader, a ultrapure water station, a variety of pipettes, and an autoclave.

Key Areas of Research

  • Exercise Physiology
  • Exercise Immunology
  • Musculoskeletal Resistance Training
  • Aging
  • Sport-Specific Assessment and Training

Current research projects

Myokine Response to Different Types of Exercise

Myokines are cytokines or proteins/peptides that are produced from skeletal muscle tissue when it is contracted forcefully or for extended periods of times such as during exercise. Recently, there has been a great deal of interest in researching myokines as they have been called the 'exercise factor' that has been thought to exist in mediating the health benefits of exercise training. Even though there has been some research done on individual types of exercise and the myokine response to that exercise, there is limited research comparing different types of exercise in the same study design. Thus, the purpose of this research is to evaluate the effects of three different types of exercise and their associated systemic blood myokine response in a young, healthy, and recreationally active sample of participants. The three types of exercise that will be compared in this research includes: 1) moderate intensity continuous exercise; 2) high intensity interval exercise; and 3) resistance exercise. In this study we will evaluate five different types of myokines that have biological relevance for a variety of metabolic processes. From a research perspective, this information is important to know due to the popularity of these three types of exercise in this population and to gain a better understanding of what type of myokine response is associated with each type of exercise. The results will be applicable to exercise physiologists and personal trainers who desire to know the best type of exercise to prescribe to clients wanting to reach varying health goals.

Concussion and Omega-3s – New Consideration for the Therapeutic Use of a Nutritional Supplement – Dean Cordingley 

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) which is highly prevalent and has a significant impact on the lives of those who sustain one.  Concussions affect people of all ages and result in the onset of physical, cognitive, and psychological symptoms.  Some of these symptoms include headaches, dizziness, amnesia, slowed reaction time, depression, and anxiety.  Currently, there are limited treatment options for individuals following a concussion and there is no evidence based nutritional supplements to aid in recovery.
Recently, there has been interest in potential treatments to improve the rate of recovery following a concussion.  One such treatment utilizes nutritional supplements.  However, there are currently limited clinical trials that have specifically addressed the efficacy of potential adjuvants, such as nutritional supplements, to standard-care therapy in the concussion population.  Currently, the use of omega-3 fatty acids as a nutritional supplement has pre-clinical data indicating its efficacy for treating TBI through multiple mechanisms; however, there is limited clinical data in humans thus, necessitating research in this area. Given this current lack of research, the aims of this research are: 1) to determine if omega-3 fatty acid nutritional supplementation improves the time to clinical recovery following a sport related concussion in adolescents and adults; 2) determine if omega-3 fatty acid supplementation can mediate the resolution of concussion related symptoms; 3) determine if omega-3 fatty acid supplementation improves patient reported quality of life; and, 4) determine if omega-3 fatty acid supplementation improves markers of inflammation (interleukin-6) and stress (cortisol) associated with sport related concussion.

Blood Flow Restriction Resistance-Exercise and Creatine Supplementation – Mikal Thrones

Creatine monohydrate (CM) is one of the most popular supplements used to enhance resistance-exercise performance. However, no study has evaluated the effectiveness of CM in improving acute exercise performance during blood flow restricted resistance-exercise (BFR-RE), a novel method of training to promote skeletal muscle hypertrophy (hereinafter referred to as “hypertrophy”). The mechanisms by which BFR-RE promotes hypertrophy have not been fully elucidated. One potential mechanism through which BFR-RE increases hypertrophy is through the release of myokines (signaling peptides and proteins secreted by muscle tissue in response to contractile activity). The proposed study will evaluate the effectiveness of CM as an ergogenic aid during BFR-RE as well as determine if CM in combination with BFR-RE alters the concentrations of the myokines myostatin, interleukin-6, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, apelin, and irisin.

Predictors of Vertical Jump Performance in Male Athletes – Adam Neiles 

The countermovement vertical jump (CMVJ) is considered a primary indicator of lower body power producing capability and has strong positive relationships with field and court sport performance. Performance in the CMVJ is influenced by multiple physiologic and anthropometric factors. The aim of this present study is to examine the correlations between CMVJ performance, peak lower body force production (Fmax), resisted sled sprint power output (RSS) and fat free body mass among male football and volleyball players aged 16-18. This experiment will include 70 participants (football n=35, volleyball n=35) with each participant performing a CMVJ test, a lower body Fmax test, an RSS test as well as having their fat free body mass calculated. Correlations between participants’ CMVJ performance and the other tests will be calculated, and the strength of relationships will be compared. It is hypothesized that lower body Fmax will have the strongest correlation with CMVJ performance among both participant groups, and the football group will have significantly higher levels of fat free body mass compared to the volleyball group.

Primary investigator

Stephen Cornish, PhD

Dr. Stephen Cornish’s research is focused on exercise and nutritional immunology. In particular, his research is concerned with the effects that exercise and nutritional interventions can have in ameliorating chronic low grade inflammation that is observed in many of the chronic diseases society is facing at this time. As a chronic low grade inflammatory response is thought to be associated with or a cause of disease, finding optimal exercise and nutritional strategies to lower inflammation is seen as key in disease management and prevention.



*Scheller C, Peeler JD, Duhamel TA, Cornish SM. The Relationship between Components of the Dynamic Strength Index and the Slope of the Force-Velocity Profile in the Loaded Countermovement Jump in Resistance-Trained Males and Females. International Journal of Strength and Conditioning. 2023; 

*Cordingley DM, Cornish SM. Efficacy of Aerobic Exercise Following Concussion: A Narrative Review. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 2022; published online before print. 

*Cordingley DM, Cornish SM. The Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Markers of Muscle Damage and Inflammation Following Exercise in Older Adults: A Brief Narrative Review. Recent Progress in Nutrition. 2022; 2(4), 1-8. 

*Cordingley DM, Cornish SM. Myokine Response to Resistance Exercise in Older Adults and the Similarities and Differences to Younger Adults: A Brief Narrative Review. OBM Geriatrics. 2022; 6(4), 1-10.

*Cordingley DM, Cornish SM. Omega-3 Fatty Acids for the Management of Osteoarthritis: A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2022; 14(16), 3362.

*Cordingley DM, Cornish SM. Potential Role of Blood Flow Restricted Exercise for Older Adults. OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine. 2022; 7(3). doi:10.21926/obm.icm.2203025 

Cornish SM, *Cordingley DM, Shaw KA, Forbes SC, Leonhardt T, Bristol A, Candow DG, Chilibeck PD. Effects of Omega-3 Supplementation Alone and Combined with Resistance Exercise on Skeletal Muscle in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2022; 14(11), 2221.

*Cordingley DM, Anderson JE, Cornish SM. Myokine response to blood-flow restricted resistance exercise in younger and older males in an untrained and resistance-trained state: A pilot study. Journal of Science in Sport and Exercise. 2022.

*Turczyn D, McMillan D, Gardiner PF, Cornish SM. Does Sleep Quality between Back-to-Back Matches Influence Running Performance in Canadian Female University Soccer Players? A GPS-based Time-Series Analysis. International Journal of Kinesiology and Sports Science. 2022; 10(1), 9-17.

Forbes SC, *Cordingley DM, Cornish SM, Gualano B, Roschel H, Ostojic SM, Rawson ES, Roy BD, Prokopidis K, Giannos P, and Candow DG. Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Brain Function and Health. Nutrients. 2022; 14(5), 921.

*Cordingley DM, Cornish SM, Candow DG. Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Catabolic Effects of Creatine Supplementation: A Brief Review. Nutrients. 2022; 14, 544.