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Int J Behav Med. 2005;12(3):161-70.

Interleukin-1 may link helplessness-hopelessness with cancer progression: a proposed model.

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Department of Physiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel.


A model of the relations between psychological factors and cancer progression should include brain and systemic components and their link with critical cellular stages in cancer progression. We present a psychoneuroimmunological (PNI) model that links helplessness-hopelessness (HH) with cancer progression via interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta). IL-1beta was elevated in the brain following exposure to inescapable shock, and HH was minimized by antagonizing cerebral IL-1beta. Elevated cerebral IL-1beta increased cancer metastasis in animals. Inescapable shock was associated with systemic elevations of IL-1beta and peripheral IL-1beta was associated with escape from apoptosis, angiogenesis, and metastasis. Involvement of the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis are discussed. Future studies need to identify the role of additional factors in this PNI pathway.

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