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Brain Behav Immun. 1992 Jun;6(2):141-56.

Modulation of human natural killer cell activity by exposure to uncontrollable stress.

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Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-7447.


Changes in natural killer cell (NK) activity and proportions of circulating T and NK lymphocyte subsets were assessed in adult males immediately after exposure to controllable or uncontrollable stress (noise) as well as 24 and 72 h later, in order to track the time course of the effects of stress. The role of control-relevant personality variables as moderators of the stress-immunosuppression relationship was considered. Subjects who perceived they had control over the noise as well as no-noise "control" subjects showed no reduction in NK activity. By contrast, subjects who perceived that they had no control over the stressor showed reduced NK activity immediately after the conclusion of the first 20-min stress session, and the reduced NK activity was found as long as 72 h later. Optimism and one's desire to be in control enhanced the negative impact of uncontrollable noise on NK activity. No differences between conditions were found on number of NK cells or a variety of T cell subsets. The results suggest the importance of perceived control in moderating the short- and long-term effects of stress on NK activity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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