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J Psychosom Res. 2007 Jan;62(1):1-8.

Impairment of several immune functions in anxious women.

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Department of Physiology (Animal Physiology II), Faculty of Biology, Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain.



Controversial results concerning immune function changes taking place in anxious subjects have been obtained. The aim of the present work was to study immune function in a group of anxious women.


Thirty-three anxious and 33 nonanxious age-matched women were included. Anxiety levels were determined by the Beck Anxiety Inventory. Peripheral blood samples were collected, and several leukocyte functions, as well as cytokine release, were studied. Plasma cortisol levels and total antioxidant capacity were also evaluated.


The results showed diminished chemotaxis, phagocytosis, lymphoproliferation in response to phytohemagglutinin mitogen, natural killer activity, and interleukin-2 release, and augmented superoxide anion levels and tumor necrosis factor-alpha release in anxious women. Plasma cortisol was increased, while total antioxidant capacity was lowered in those subjects.


The findings suggest impaired immune function and cytokine release in anxious women. This might be related to increased cortisol secretion, which would lead to oxidative stress reflected in lowered plasma total antioxidant capacity.

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