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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2014 May;1318:7-17. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12409. Epub 2014 Apr 16.

Systemic disease sequelae in chronic inflammatory diseases and chronic psychological stress: comparison and pathophysiological model.

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Laboratory of Experimental Rheumatology and Neuroendocrine Immunology, Department of Internal Medicine I, University Hospital Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany.


In chronic inflammatory diseases (CIDs), the neuroendocrine-immune crosstalk is important to allocate energy-rich substrates to the activated immune system. Since the immune system can request energy-rich substrates independent of the rest of the body, I refer to it as the "selfish immune system," an expression that was taken from the theory of the "selfish brain," giving the brain a similar position. In CIDs, the theory predicts the appearance of long-term disease sequelae, such as metabolic syndrome. Since long-standing energy requirements of the immune system determine disease sequelae, the question arose as to whether chronic psychological stress due to chronic activation of the brain causes similar sequelae. Indeed, there are many similarities; however, there are also differences. A major difference is the behavior of body weight (constant in CIDs versus loss or gain in stress). To explain this discrepancy, a new pathophysiological theory is presented that places inflammation and stress axes in the middle.


chronic inflammatory disease; psychological stress; rheumatoid arthritis; systemic disease sequelae

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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