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J Neuroimmunol. 2002 Dec;133(1-2):132-43.

Suppression of host resistance to Listeria monocytogenes by acute cold/restraint stress: lack of direct IL-6 involvement.

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Laboratory of Clinical and Environmental Endocrinology and Immunology, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Empire State Plaza, P.O. Box 509, Albany, NY 12201-0509, USA.


We conducted kinetic studies to evaluate the effects of acute cold/restraint stress (ACRS) on both primary and secondary host resistance to Listeria monocytogenes (LM). The involvement of IL-6 also was investigated using IL-6 knockout (KO) mice on the BALB/c background. ACRS dramatically increased the serum corticosterone levels, indicating that ACRS activated the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. ACRS significantly inhibited host resistance to LM during a primary but not a secondary LM infection. During the primary infection, ACRS caused a significant delay in clearance of LM, loss of body weight, reduced food/water intake, and elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-1beta, and TNFalpha) and IFNgamma. ACRS IL-6 KO mice showed higher LM burdens than did IL-6 KO controls, suggesting that IL-6 is not required for the ACRS-impairment of host resistance. Elevated levels of IL-1beta and TNFalpha may compensate for the absence of IL-6 and maintain the ACRS-induced impairment, in that the serum and splenic IL-1beta and TNFalpha levels were significantly higher in infected ACRS IL-6 KO mice, but not in control IL-6 KO mice, as compared to respective wild type controls. ACRS appears to inhibit IL-6 independent mechanisms associated with innate immunity and/or the development of adaptive immunity, but these reactions are unable to modulate the more efficient secondary immune responses.

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