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"A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses."

Hippocrates (460BC - 377 BC)



Monday, May 3, 2010

Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System

"...Cytokine expression represents a relatively new and promising example of an avenue for research linking stress, immune change, and disease. For example, chronic stress may elicit prolonged secretion of cortisol, to which white blood cells mount a counterregulatory response by downregulating their cortisol receptors. This downregulation, in turn, reduces the cells’ capacity to respond to anti-inflammatory signals and allows cytokine-mediated inflammatory processes to flourish. Stress therefore might contribute to the course of diseases involving excessive nonspecific inflammation and thereby increase risk for excess morbidity and mortality..."
Suzanne C. Segerstrom and Gregory E. Miller

I've suspected for some time that short term and, even more so, chronic stress can contribute to negative immune response and flare ups in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. There still haven't been too many studies in this area, but the majority of them show a positive correlation between prolonged stress and negative immune response. Since chronic stress may "elicit prolonged secretion of cortisol", I wonder if there is a higher than average percentage of people with RA that suffer some type of kidney disease or deficiency?!

1 comment:

  1. I think that's a valid prediction! I fear I am the cause of your prolonged stress, haha!! :)

    ReplyDelete