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Dermatoendocrinol. 2011 Jan;3(1):37-40. doi: 10.4161/derm.3.1.14618.

Stress, atopy and allergy: A re-evaluation from a psychoneuroimmunologic persepective.

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1
University-Medicine Charité; Internal Medicine and Dermatology; Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy; Berlin.

Abstract

Since the early days of psychosomatic thinking, atopic disease was considered exemplary. In the 70s and 80s numerous reports stated increased anxiety, depression or ill stresscoping in atopics in correlation with enhanced disease activity. Employed patient groups however were small and diverse and controls rare. Therefore, the question remained, whether psychopathological findings in atopics were of pathogenetic relevance or an epiphenomenon of chronic inflammatory disease. Recently, the discussion has been revived and refocused by psychoneuroimmunological findings. We now know that atopic disease is characterized by an imbalance of the classical stress-axis response along the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) and the sympathetic axis (SA). This imbalance can be found shoulder-to-shoulder with enhanced expression of newly emerging neuroendocrine stress mediators such as substance P (SP) and nerve growth factor that form up to a third stress axis (neurotrophin neuropeptide axis: NNA). Together they can alter the inflammatory as well as the neuroendocrine stress-response on several levels. In skin, the immediate inflammatory response to stress involves neuropeptide release and mast cell degranulation, in short neurogenic inflammation. Systemically, antigen-presentation and TH2 cytokine bias are promoted under the influence of cortisol and neuropeptides. Imbalanced stress-responsiveness may therefore be at the core of exacerbated allergic disease and deserves re-evaluation of therapeutic options such as neutralization of SP-signaling by antagonists against its receptor NK1, cortisol treatment as supplementation and relaxation techniques to balance the stress-response.

KEYWORDS:

Trk; melanoma; neurotrophins; p75NTR; psoriasis; skin

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