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Psychiatry Res. 2006 Aug 30;143(2-3):223-34. Epub 2006 Jul 10.

Effect of coping on endocrinoimmune functions in different stress situations.

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Department of Psychiatry and Brain Korea 21 Project for Medical Sciences, Yonsei University College of Medicine, 134 Shinchon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 120-752, Korea.


The objective of this study was to examine the effects of coping strategies on the endocrine and immune functions in different stress situations. Thirty-eight medical students were enrolled in this study. Cell-mediated immune function was measured using the lymphocyte proliferative response to phytohemagglutinin (PHA) and interleukin-2 (IL-2) production during the nonexamination period and during the preexamination period. Endocrine functions were assessed by measuring the plasma levels of norepinephrine, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol. The Global Assessment of Recent Stress (GARS) scale, the Stress Response Inventory, the anxiety, depression, and somatization subscales of the Symptom Checklist-90-revised, the Way of Coping-revised, the Toronto Alexithymia Scale and the Anger Expression Scale were used as psychometric measures. The subjects with higher levels of total GARS scores showed significantly higher IL-2 production during the nonexam period than those with lower levels of total GARS scores. During the same period, IL-2 production in the less positive reappraisal group was significantly higher than in the more positive reappraisal group. Lymphocyte proliferation in the group seeking less social support was also significantly higher than in the group seeking more social support. However, no significant association was found between the coping strategies and each of the hormone levels. These results suggest that positive reappraisal and seeking social support can be associated with the alteration of immune function during a chronic stress period. In particular, positive reappraisal is likely to reverse the stress-induced immune responses. This study did not find that neuroendocrine function such as the sympathetic-adrenal medullary axis or the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is playing a mediating role in the relationship between coping and immunity.

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