Cortisol and cardiovascular reactions to mental stress and antibody status following hepatitis B vaccination: A preliminary study


Address reprint requests to: Victoria E. Burns, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, England. E-mail:


This study examined possible neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying the association between stress and antibody response to vaccination. Hepatitis B antibody titers were obtained, and salivary cortisol and cardiovascular activity measured during baseline, mental arithmetic, and recovery in 30 undergraduates. It was hypothesised that higher reactivity would be associated with poorer antibody status. Compared to individuals with high antibody titers, those with low titers had significantly lower cortisol levels throughout, exhibited a significantly attenuated end-of-task reduction in cortisol relative to resting baseline, and had larger cardiac output and inotropic reactions, but smaller increases in total peripheral resistance, to mental arithmetic. In sum, variations in indices of both hypothalamic pituitary adrenocortical axis and sympathetic nervous system activity were associated with individual differences in immune response to vaccination.