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Brain Behav Immun. 1991 Dec;5(4):339-48.

Cytokine production and lymphocyte transformation during stress.

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Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


The production of interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta) and interferon-gamma (IFN gamma) and blast transformation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells were assessed in medical students writing an academic examination. Blood samples were obtained on three occasions: (1) 1 month prior to the examination during a period of relatively low academic demand; (2) immediately after the examination; and (3) 10 days later. Results indicated that immune responses were significantly different immediately after the examination compared with the baseline and postexam measures. Lymphocyte responsiveness to both concanavalin A and pokeweed mitogen was decreased, as was the production of IFN gamma, supporting earlier reports of immunosuppression after relatively commonplace stressors. In contrast to predictions, IL-1 beta production was significantly elevated after the examination. Cortisol levels were also measured, but did not change across the three sample points. Our finding of an increase in IL-1 beta production suggests that stress may have different effects on different cell populations by enhancing the responses of monocytes and depressing those of lymphocytes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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