• Pearl, Dennis Keith (PI)
  • Glaser, Ronald (PI)
  • Glaser, Ronald (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


There is increasing evidence that the central nervous system (CNS)
can influence the immune response, the body's defense against
infectious and malignant disease. Data from our laboratory and
others have demonstrated that an increase in psychological distress
can lead to adverse immunological changes. These distress-related
immunological changes provide one physiological pathway through
which major and minor life changes might result in an increased
incidence of infectious disease. However, most individuals
undergoing even major life changes do not become ill, or they only
experience short illness episodes. Actual organically-based
illness episodes are a function of differential exposure to
pathogens and/or carcinogens, as well as the prior health of the
individual, particularly in regard to immune system function. In
this Program Project Grant we have six projects, three involving
human subjects, and three involving animal models, to study CNS-
endocrine-immune interaction and the impact of different stressors
on this interaction. Project 1 employs a medical student academic
stress model that investigates different aspects of the cellular
immune response, focusing on T-lymphocyte and macrophage function
while simultaneously measuring certain selected hormones associated
with psychological stress, in conjunction with Project 3. Project
2 addresses the endocrinological and immunological correlates of
marital quality in a prospective design, in collaboration with
Project 3 as well. Project 3 is an endocrine study that interacts
with both Projects 1 and 2, allowing detailed studies of the CNS-
endocrine-immune axis to be performed. Project 4, the first of the
animal studies, addresses the effect of acute stress (cold-water
swimming) on the immune response, and the impact on morbidity and
mortality of mice inoculated with influenza virus. Project 5 is
concerned with health-related changes associated with a microbial
infection in which the immune response, specifically macrophages,
play an important role. Project 6 is a study of T-lymphocyte-
mediated autoimmune disease in rats that can be experimentally
induced. The effect of acute stress on T-cell immunity and health
outcomes of this autoimmune disease will be measured clinically and
immunologically. There are also two core sections: Core A is the
administrative core, and Core B is the statistical analysis and
data management core. Research on the relationships between the
CNS, immune system and the endocrine system will provide evidence
of physiological pathways through which various kinds of stressors
may modulate immune function and health.
Effective start/end date1/1/901/1/90


  • National Institute of Mental Health

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