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Physiol Behav. 1990 Jun;47(6):1245-51.

Altered T-lymphocyte response following aggressive encounters in mice.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, NY 14642.


Intermale aggression is a natural form of psychosocial stress that can alter a variety of physiological functions, including immune function. In Experiment 1, daily fighting between pairs of previously isolated male mice differentially altered immunological measures of T-cell responsiveness in dominant and submissive animals. Submissive mice had lower T-cell proliferation and IL-2 production, when compared to dominant, nonfought, or witness mice. Since the fighting behavior often results in wounding of the submissive animal, Experiment 2 used a relatively nonaggressive test to determine whether the immunological differences between dominant and submissive mice were due to wounding or due to the psychosocial state of dominance. Dominant mice had elevated T-cell proliferation and IL-2 production when compared to the other treatment groups. Therefore, it appears that in dominant/submissive pairs of mice a severe physical stress, such as intense fighting, influences the immune system in a different manner than psychological or mild aggressive encounters.

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