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

Musculoskeletal Exercise Immunology Lab

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

Blood Flow Restricted Resistance Exercise

Blood flow restricted resistance exercise is a type of training modality that involves the use of external compression on a limb to mechanically constrict blood flow while the limb is being exercised. Typically, an individual completes a low-load resistance exercise (20-40% of their single maximum contraction). BFR induces blood pooling in the capillary bed of limb muscles, thus impeding venous return while having only minimal effect on arterial flow. However, there is little information on the acute effects of BFR exercise on myokines, and none on the effects of longer-term resistance training on putative anabolic myokines. Our laboratory is seeking to determine the effects of acute sessions of blood flow restricted resistance exercise on the myokine response in untrained younger (18-30 years) and older (≥65 years) adult males as they move from an untrained to trained state. This research will help us determine if one of the underlying mechanisms whereby blood flow restricted resistance exercise produces skeletal muscle hypertrophy and strength gains is via a myokine response.

Articular Cartilage Metabolism Response to Loaded and Unloaded Walking Exercise

The objective of this research is to evaluate the acute effects of 12% body weight unloaded or loaded single bouts of walking exercise on biomarkers of cartilage degradation (serum cartilage oligomeric matrix protein - sCOMP) and formation (procollagen amino terminal propeptide - PIIANP) in young, healthy adults. The main rationale for this research is to identify if either unloading or loading with 12% body weight will dramatically alter the presence of cartilage degradation and formation biomarkers in the systemic circulation. This is important to identify for those who are overweight/obese as it may have implications on the type of exercise prescription that would be most effective for reducing the impact of cartilage degradation on load bearing joints.

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.



Candow DG, Forbes SC, Chilibeck PD, Cornish SM, Antonio J, Kreider RB. Variables Influencing the Effectiveness of Creatine Supplementation as a Therapeutic Intervention for Sarcopenia. Frontiers in Nutrition. (Accepted).

Schwanbeck SR, Cornish SM, Barss T, Chilibeck PD. The Effects of Training with Free Weights versus Machines on Muscle Mass, Strength, Testosterone, and Cortisol Levels. Journal of Strength Conditioning Research. (Accepted).

Candow DG, Forbes SC, Chilibeck PD, Cornish SM, Antonio J, Kreider RB. Effectiveness of Creatine Supplementation on Aging Muscle and Bone: Focus on Falls Prevention and Inflammation. J Clin Med. 2019 Apr 11;8(4). pii: E488. doi: 10.3390/jcm8040488.

Cornish SM, Myrie SB, *Bugera EM, *Chase JE, *Turczyn D, Pinder M. Omega-3 supplementation with resistance training does not improve body composition or lower biomarkers of inflammation more so than resistance training alone in older men. Nutr Res. 2018 Dec;60:87-95. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2018.09.005. Epub 2018 Sep 19.

Rempel M, Yardley JE, MacIntosh A, Hay JL, Bouchard D, Cornish S, Marks SD, Hai Y, Gordon JW, McGavock J. Vigorous Intervals and Hypoglycemia in Type 1 Diabetes: A Randomized Cross Over Trial. Sci Rep. 2018 Oct 26;8(1):15879. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-34342-6.

*Bugera EM, Duhamel TA, Peeler JD, Cornish SM. The systemic myokine response of decorin, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interleukin-15 (IL-15) to an acute bout of blood flow restricted exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2018 Dec;118(12):2679-2686. doi: 10.1007/s00421-018-3995-8. Epub 2018 Sep 22.

Cornish SM, Peeler JD. No Effect of Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation on Inflammatory and Cartilage Degradation Biomarkers in Individuals with Knee Osteoarthritis. Nutrition Research. 2018 Mar;51:57-66. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2017.12.010. Epub 2017 Dec 29.

Barr M, *Beaver T, *Turczyn D, Cornish S.  The Validity and Reliability of 15 Hz Global Positioning System Units for Assessing the Activity Profiles of Football Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2019 May;33(5):1371-1379. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002076.

Cornish SM, *Chase JE, *Bugera EM, Giesbrecht GG. Systemic IL-6 and Myoglobin Response to Three Different Resistance Exercise Intensities in Older Men. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity. 2017 Nov 1:1-23. doi: 10.1123/japa.2017-0167.