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Brain Behav Immun. 2001 Mar;15(1):78-84.

Aberrant nuclear expression of AP-1 and NFkappaB in lymphocytes of women stressed by the experience of breast biopsy.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stritch School of Medicine, Loyala University of Chicago Medical Center, Maywood, Illinois 60153, USA.


We have investigated the expression of AP-1 and NFkappaB in peripheral blood lymphocytes of women scheduled for breast biopsy. Samples were collected when women were informed of the need for biopsy (prebiopsy, T1, 5-7 days prior to the actual biopsy) and 7-10 days after they learned the result of their biopsy (postbiopsy, T2). At the time of blood collection, psychological stress was evaluated using Speilberger's State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and the Profile of Mood States (POMS). Women scheduled to undergo breast biopsy reported significant increases in anxiety (STAI) and mood disturbance (POMS). Gel shift mobility assays showed that mitogen stimulated peripheral blood lymphocytes of these women were less capable of the nuclear expression of AP-1 or NFkappaB at T1. Similar assessments, 7-10 days after the women learned of the results of their breast biopsy, showed these same women to have a marked reduction in anxiety and mood disturbance and an increased nuclear translocation of AP-1 and NFkappaB. These results show a significant decrease in nuclear AP-1 and NFkappaB expression during the period of emotional distress prior to biopsy with a return of nuclear transcription activity to normal levels when distress was relieved. Several studies have correlated increased psychological stress with decreased immune function. The results of this study suggest that psychological stress may mediate immunosuppression by altering the expression of the transcription factors, AP-1 and NFkappaB.

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