The Influence of Psychological Stress on the Immune Response to Vaccinesa

Authors

  • RONALD GLASER,

    Corresponding author
    1. Departments of Medical Microbiology and Immunology and Medicine, The Ohio State University Institute of Behavioral Medicine Research, Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio 43210 USA
      Address for correspondence: Ronald Glaser, Ph.D., Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, The Ohio State University, 2175 Graves Hall, 333 W. 10th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210 USA.
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  • JANICE K. KIECOLT-GLASER,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, The Ohio State University Institute of Behavioral Medicine Research, Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio 43210 USA
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  • WILLIAM B. MALARKEY,

    1. Departments of Medicine and Medical Microbiology and Immunology, The Ohio State University Institute of Behavioral Medicine Research, Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio 43210 USA
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  • JOHN F. SHERIDAN

    1. Departments of Oral Biology and Medical Microbiology and Immunology, The Ohio State University Institute of Behavioral Medicine Research, Ohio State University College of Dentistry and College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio 43210 USA
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  • a

    These studies were supported in part by Grants MH42096, MH50538, MH44660, and MH11585 from the National Institutes of Mental Health, the General Clinical Research Center Grant MO1RR0034, and the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center Core Grant from the National Cancer Institute, CA16058. We thank the Central Ohio Chapter of the Alzheimer's Disease Association and the Columbus Chapter of the Parkinson's Disease Association for their support.

Address for correspondence: Ronald Glaser, Ph.D., Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, The Ohio State University, 2175 Graves Hall, 333 W. 10th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210 USA.

Abstract

Abstract: We compared virus-specific antibody and T-cell responses to influenza virus vaccination in 32 caregivers of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients and matched control subjects. Caregivers showed a poorer antibody response and virus-specific T-cell response following vaccination compared to the control subjects as measured by fourfold increases in antibody titers to the vaccine and lower levels of virus-induced IL-2 levels in vitro. We performed a second study in which forty-eight medical students were inoculated with a series of three injections of the hepatitis-B (HEP-B) vaccine to coincide with the third day of three, three-day examination blocks. Twelve of the 48 medical students seroconverted after the first injection; these students were characterized by falling into the lower stressed/lower anxiety group of students. Students who reported greater social support and lower anxiety and stress demonstrated a higher antibody response to the vaccine and a more vigorous T-cell response to HEP-B surface antigen at the end of the third examination experience. The differences in antibody and T-cell responses to HEP-B and influenza virus vaccinations provide a demonstration of how stress may be able to alter both the cellular and humoral immune responses to vaccines and novel pathogens in both younger and older adults.

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