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J Immunotoxicol. 2008 Apr;5(2):221-5. doi: 10.1080/15476910802131444.

Personality, coping style, and constitutional neuroimmunology.

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National Center for Mental Health, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Moscow, Russia.


Risk of developing certain diseases correlates with human personality. Cardiologists have defined Type "A" personalities as coronary-prone. Associated psychological peculiarities are easily angered, competitive, impatient and hard-driving. Psychologically-opposite people who are prone to suppress emotions and avoid conflicts (Type "C"), have a high risk of infectious diseases and certain forms of cancer. The development of contemporary biology and medicine determined an important role of the neuroendocrine and immune systems in these correlations. The peculiarity of human personality, as much as of animal behavioral patterns, is strongly expressed under stress conditions. The strategies of stress coping display a normal distribution in the human and wild animal populations, with truly passive and active coping styles located at the outermost regions of the curve. However, there are a number of strategies to breed experimental animals with extreme coping styles; animals selected for a passive coping style to acute stress show marked activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and low stimulation of the sympathetic-adrenal system; both are associated with immunosuppression. An opposite reaction of the neuroendocrine system has been shown in animals with an active coping style to stress; this was associated with the signs of immunostimulation. Similarly, people with passive coping style (type "C") might be at higher risk of infectious diseases and cancer, while people with active coping style (type "A") might be predisposed to coronary, allergic, and autoimmune diseases. Furthermore, pain, decreased productivity, and anxiety, all common in patients with different diseases, are additional stressful entities. Thus, an adequate coping with a disease is an important approach to improve life quality and disease prognosis. Therefore, psychological and psychopharmacotherapeutic interventions that enhance effective coping should have beneficial effects in patients with immune-mediated diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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