Stress and the immune system

Research on stress and the immune system.

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  • Created by: Dharini
  • Created on: 01-05-12 10:26

Jemmott and Locke (1)



Animals exposed to uncontrollable noise /electric shock -- significantly more vulnerable to infection.

--> Stress has a negative effect on the immune function.

- However this is animal research therefore it might be difficult to generalise.

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Jemmott and Locke (2)



In exam periods, students disease fighting mechanisms were weaker due to the high stress.

--> Stress has a negative effect on the immune system.

- However it is a natural experiment therefre it is difficult to draw a causal relationship because there maybe other variables at work.

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Kimzey et al

Studies 'skylab' missions astronauts and found that their immune systems were significantly weakned by the 'excitement' of re-entry and splash down.

--> Stress has a negative effect on the immune response.

 - However new research suggests that in a limited pathogen environment, the immune system may go into a standby mode.

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Kiecolt-Glaser et al (1)

Efects on the Acute stress

Blood samples of students were taken 1 month before exams and again in the week of them. This was to investigate to effect of exams as a stressor on students. They measured the levels of Natural killer cells, and found significantly lower levels in the week of exams.

--> Stress has a negative effect on TH1 immunity and makes us more vulnerable to infection.

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Marucha et al

Found similar results to Kiecolt-Glaser et al (1) when measuring wound-healing time using punch wound biopsies to the inside of the cheek. They found that the wound took significantly longer during exams than those done in holiday time.

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Kiecolt-Glaser et al (2)

Found that weakened immune responses were associated with interpersonal conflict between married couples.

 --> Stress has a negative effect on the immune response.

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