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Persistently low natural killer cell activity in normal adults: immunological, hormonal and mood correlates.

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Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Pa.


This current study is concerned with the identification of the incidence of persistently low natural killer (NK) cell activity in an essentially healthy population of young adults, and the characterization of the psychological profile associated with this pattern of NK activity. Eighty-eight individuals, between the ages of 18 and 44 years, were accrued to this project. Subjects were tested serially, at baseline induction into the study, and at 2 and 4 weeks follow-up. Baseline assessment included a complete physical examination and laboratory work-up in order to exclude anyone ill at the time of enrollment, and to have complete physical status information on all subjects at the time of accrual. NK activity, urinary catecholamine levels and psychological status were also assessed at baseline, and at the specified follow-up intervals. Individuals with low NK activity were operationally defined as those having NK function either below the group mean, or below the group lowest quartile, at baseline and at two follow-up assessments. Results showed that in both univariate analyses, as well as in logistic regression models, age and the perception of environmental stressors or 'hassles' predicted persistently low NK activity. Younger subjects, who perceived environmental events to which they were exposed as more serious in nature, were more likely to exhibit a persistently low NK profile over time than older individuals who perceived daily events as less important to them.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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