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Int J Psychophysiol. 2000 Sep;37(3):219-32.

Prolonged reduction of salivary immunoglobulin A (sIgA) after a major academic exam.

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Institute for Medical Psychology, University of Düsseldorf, P.O. Box 101007, 40001, Düsseldorf, Germany.



In a previous study we observed a continuous reduction of salivary IgA concentration ([sIgA]) during a period of academic stress. This reduction of sIgA concentration exceeded the stress period by at least 1 week. The present study aimed to replicate and extend our previous finding. In particular, we wanted to examine the time of recovery of [sIgA] alterations associated with academic stress.


Twenty-seven participants in a major medical exam and 27 controls not participating in any exam during the study provided daily saliva samples (immediately after awakening), from the 6th day prior to their last exam until the 14th day afterwards, for analysis of salivary IgA. Data were averaged for the last weeks of exams and the first and second week after exams, respectively.


A prolonged reduction of sIgA in exam students as compared to controls was observed. Fourteen days post-stress sIgA concentrations of exam students were still significantly lower than control levels (P=0.004). No recovery was observable. At the same time exam students and controls did not differ in terms of self-reported stress and recovery.


Psychological and immunological stress effects may be dissociated, the latter considerably exceeding the stress period. A closer look at the temporal dynamics of stress-induced immune alterations might increase our understanding of psychoimmuno relationships.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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