Chronic psychological stress suppresses contact hypersensitivity: Potential roles of dysregulated cell trafficking and decreased IFN-γ production

Jessica M.F. Hall, Alexandra R. Witter, Ronny R. Racine, Rance Berg, Alan Podawiltz, Harlan Jones, Mark E. Mummert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Increasing evidence shows that psychological stress can have dramatic impacts on the immune system, particularly the cutaneous immune response in dermatological disorders. While there have been many studies examining the impact of acute psychological stress on contact hypersensitivity there are relatively few studies concerning the impact of chronic psychological stress. Furthermore, the local immunological mechanisms by which chronic psychological stress impacts contact hypersensitivity still remain to be explored. Here we show that restraint-induced chronic psychological stress stimulates activation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis and delays weight gain in female BALB/c mice. We observed that chronic psychological stress reduces the cutaneous immune response as evidence by reduced ear swelling. This correlated with a significant decrease in the inflammatory cell infiltrate. On the other hand, chronic psychological stress does not influence T cell proliferation, activation, or sensitivity to corticosterone but does increase CD4+ and CD8+ T cell percentages in draining lymph nodes during a contact hypersensitivity reaction. Chronic psychological stress induces a decrease in overall circulating white blood cells, lymphocytes, and monocytes during a contact hypersensitivity reaction suggesting extravasation from the circulation. Finally, we found markedly reduced local IFN-γ production in chronically stressed animals. Based on these findings we propose that chronic psychological stress reduces contact hypersensitivity due to dysregulated cell trafficking and reduced production of IFN-γ.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-164
Number of pages9
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Volume36
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2014

Keywords

  • Cell trafficking
  • Chronic psychological stress
  • Contact hypersensitivity

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