Stress and The Immune System

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Stress and The Immune System

Kiecolt-Glaser et al. (1984) - Acute Stress

  • Conducted a natural experiment to test whether the stress of short-term stressors had an effect on the immune system functioning in medical students.
  • Blood samples were taken one month prior to the exam period and during the exam period itself.
  • Immune system functioning was assessed by measuring NK cell activity in the blood samples.
  • NK cell activity was significantly reduced in the second sample as opposed to the sample taken a month before.
  • This suggests that short-term, predictable stressors reduce immune system functioning, increasing vulnerability to illness.

Marucha et al. (1998) - Acute Stress

  • Inflicted a 'punch biopsy' in the mouths of students either during the summer holidays or three days before an exam.
  • The wounds given before the exam took 40% longer to heal than the wounds given before the exam took 40% longer to


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