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  1. Kang, Duck-Hee
  2. Coe, Christopher L.
  3. McCarthy, Donna O.
  4. Ershler, William B.


Immune responses to an academic stressor were examined in healthy and asthmatic adolescents with regard to their illness symptom reports. Eighty-seven high school students completed a health diary for 2 weeks and provided three blood samples during midsemester, final-exam, and postexam periods. During exam week, all students showed significant immunological alterations from baseline: Natural killer cell activity was significantly lower, whereas lymphocyte proliferation and neutrophil superoxide release were significantly higher. These immune changes tended to return toward baseline during the postexam period, but the enhanced neutrophil reactivity continued to rise. Overall, immunological responses were similar between asthmatic subjects and controls. Appropriate medical management may have accounted for this similarity. However, subtle group differences in the postexam recovery pattern and a continuous activation of inflammatory cell function following a stressor may warrant further investigation.