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Keywords:

  • cytokine;
  • Th1/Th2;
  • academic stress;
  • history of asthma

Abstract

Predominant Th2 profiles are associated with the worsening of asthma, and stress is speculated to induce a Th2 profile. The goals of this study were to examine the responses of the cytokines Th1 (IFN-γ and IL-2) and Th2 (IL-4, IL-5, and IL-6) to a stressor and to look at the relationships between cytokine and psychological responses. Twenty-four students with and without a history of asthma completed questionnaires and gave blood samples during nonexam and exam periods. Cytokines were measured by ELISA from supernatants of stimulated mononuclear cells (MNC) and whole blood. During examinations, there were a significant decrease in IL-2 and a significant increase in IL-6 production (both cultures) and a significant decrease in IFN-γ production (MNC cultures). Baseline IL-2 levels showed significant negative correlations with several stress and mood scores. Findings of this study indicate a down-regulation of Th1 and a selective up-regulation of Th2 cytokines during a stressful exposure. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Res Nurs Health 24:245–257, 2001