Inflammatory Regulation Plays Role in Stress, Illness Link

Stress induces glucocorticoid receptor resistance; GCR increases likelihood of developing cold

TUESDAY, April 3 (HealthDay News) -- People under chronic stress have glucocorticoid receptor resistance (GCR), which is linked to increased risk of illness, according to research published online April 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In study one, Sheldon Cohen, Ph.D., from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and colleagues analyzed stressful life events, GCR, and control variables in 276 healthy individuals who were quarantined, exposed to one of two rhinoviruses, and followed for five days. In study two, the production of proinflammatory cytokines was evaluated in 79 subjects who were assessed for GCR then exposed to rhinovirus.

The researchers found that individuals with recent exposure to a long-term stressful experience demonstrated GCR. Those with GCR were at increased risk of developing a cold. In study two, among infected subjects, greater GCR predicted the production of more local proinflammatory cytokines.

"These data provide support for a model suggesting that prolonged stressors result in GCR, which, in turn, interferes with appropriate regulation of inflammation," Cohen and colleagues conclude. "Because inflammation plays an important role in the onset and progression of a wide range of diseases, this model may have broad implications for understanding the role of stress in health."

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