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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2019 Feb 20. pii: S0306-4530(18)30695-4. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2019.02.021. [Epub ahead of print]

Stress and inflammation - The need to address the gap in the transition between acute and chronic stress effects.

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Chair of Health Psychology, Institute of Psychology, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Nägelsbachstr. 49a, 91052, Erlangen, Germany. Electronic address:


Stress responses help us navigate our environment and respond appropriately to threats. Stress systems communicate threats to the entire organism, and as such, also stimulate inflammatory mechanisms. This modulation might serve protective functions in the short term, but sustained low-grade inflammation has severe long-term health consequences. While we have reached a reasonable level of understanding of acute, as well as chronic stress effects on inflammatory mechanisms, there is a significant gap in our understanding of the transitional phase between acute and chronic stress. The purpose of this review is to first summarize current knowledge of our understanding of acute stress effects on inflammation, as well as of chronic stress effects on inflammation, and to then analyze the state of knowledge about the transitional phase between acute and chronic stress. Research discussed here shows that we are beginning to understand the early phase of repeated acute stress, but lack information on longer term exposure to repeated acute stress experiences. More research is needed to bridge this important gap und our conceptualization and understanding of the stress and health relationship.


Acute stress; Chronic stress; HPA axis; Habituation; Inflammation; Repeated acute stress

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