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J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol. 2009;19 Suppl 1:40-7.

Stress and allergy.

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Unidad de Alergia, Hospital La Plana, Vila-Real, Castellón, Spain.


In recent years it has been seen that the nervous and immune systems regulate each other reciprocally, thus giving rise to a new field of study known as psychoneuroimmunology. Stress is defined as a general body response to initially threatening external or internal demands, involving the mobilization of physiological and psychological resources to deal with them. In other words, stress is characterized by an imbalance between body demands and the capacity of the body to cope with them. The persistence of such a situation gives rise to chronic stress, which is the subject of the present study, considering its repercussions upon different organs and systems, with special emphasis on the immune system and--within the latter--upon the implications in relation to allergic disease. Activation of the neuroendocrine and sympathetic systems through catecholamine and cortisol secretion exerts an influence upon the immune system, modifying the balance between Th1/Th2 response in favor of Th2 action. It is not possible to affirm that chronic stress is intrinsically able to cause allergy, though the evidence of different studies suggests than in genetically susceptible individuals, such stress may favor the appearance of allergic disease on one hand, and complicate the control of existing allergy on the other.

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