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Fam Med. 1991 Nov-Dec;23(8):594-9.

The temporal relationship of psychosocial stress to cellular immunity and herpes labialis recurrences.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington 06032.


This study used a prospective single-subject study design and time series analysis for repeated measures data to investigate the hypothesis that variations in psychosocial stress are associated with changes in cellular immunity in a study subject with recurrent herpes labialis. A study subject who was antibody positive for HSV-1 but reported no clinical manifestations of disease served as a control. Psychosocial stress, as measured by a questionnaire; cellular immunity, as measured by the monoclonal antibodies CD4 (OKT4), which defines the helper/inducer subset of T lymphocytes; and CD8 (OKT8), which defines the suppressor/cytotoxic subset, were measured weekly over the 32-week study period. Analysis of data using bivariate time series (ARIMA) demonstrated significant inverse correlations between stress level scores and percent CD4 helper/inducer T lymphocytes in both subjects. In the study subject with recurrent herpes simplex labialis, a Mann-Whitney U statistic determined that the percent of CD4 in the early stages of a recurrence were significantly lower than the percent of CD4 at other times when blood samples were drawn. The data presented are repeated measures on two individuals with positive antibodies to the herpes simplex virus, one with recurrent herpes and one without a history of recurrent herpes. Relevance for stress research is discussed.

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