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Stress-Immune Systems interactions


Although associations between psychosocial stress and health outcomes have now been carefully documented for several diseases, the mechanisms by which stress specifically influence disease susceptibility, activity and outcome are poorly understood. This proposal focus on the role of stress hormones in the regulation of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokine production for 2 major reasons: (1) the balance of pro-inflammatory/ T helper (Th)1 versus anti-inflammatory/Th2 cytokine production is critically skewed, one way or the other, in several common human diseases such as infections, allergy, autoimmunity and atherosclerosis; (2) hyperactivity or hypoactivity of the stress system influence the onset and/or the course of the above-mentioned diseases. Thus, better understanding of the stress system regulation of Th1, Th2 and pro-/anti-inflammatory cytokine responses may provide critical insights into mechanisms underlying a variety of common human immune-related diseases.

Over the past decade others and we have shown that stress hormones inhibit the production of Th1 cytokines but stimulate the production of Th2 cytokines. Taking into consideration the above-mentioned important clinical implications, further studies in this direction are warranted.

The major objectives of this grant application are:
(1) further extend the work of the applicant in this field;
(2) support the reintegration of the applicant and transfer of knowledge acquired in the USA;
(3) complement a Marie Curie Chair proposal of the applicant;
(4) support the continued development of an existing multidisciplinary organizational structure.

The research project will focus on:
(1) effect of stress hormones on the production of newly described Th1 and Th2 cytokines;
(2) neural-immune interact ions at the vascular wall and
(3) interactions between stress system activity and cytokine profiles in inbred strains of rats, with implications for allergy, autoimmunity and atherosclerosis.

Call for proposal

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