This subproject is one of many research subprojects utilizing theresources provided by a Center grant funded by NIH/NCRR. The subproject andinvestigator (PI) may have received primary funding from another NIH source,and thus could be represented in other CRISP entries. The institution listed isfor the Center, which is not necessarily the institution for the investigator.Despite the evidence that psychological distress can simultaneously downregulate cellular immune function while enhancing the immune processes that produce allergic symptoms, very few studies have addressed these issues, and none, to our knowledge, have done so by integrating immune, endocrine, and psychological measures. Our proposed studies are designed to systematically examine the interplay among stressors, mood, and responsivity to allergens among individuals with allergic rhinitis (hay fever), in conjunction with concurrent immune and endocrine responses.
The specific aims of the proposed studies are: 1) to assess the linkages among skin reactivity to allergens, hormones, and aspects of the immune response related to Th1-Th2 shift, as well as the extent to which mood, stressors, shyness, and age mediate these relationships; 2) to determine the relationships among mood, stressors, hormones and changes in allergic responses and the influence of age on these pathways; 3) to assess relationships between responses to laboratory stressors and naturalistic stressors; and 4) to determine the extent to which age interacts with mood and stress to alter the Th1-Th2 shift and intensity of allergic responses. We will test the following hypotheses: (1)During and following the control' or low stress CRC admission, participants will demonstrate smaller skin test responses, lower secretion of proinflammatory cytokines, and lower production of both catecholamines and cortisol than during and following the admission in which they will undergo the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST); (2) Higher levels of depressive symptoms will be associated with higher levels of cortisol and catecholamines, greater responsiveness to allergens during skin testing, enhanced allergy symptom reports during pollen season, greater production of IgE and proinflammatory cytokines, and poorer cellular immune function; both laboratory and naturalistic stressors will magnify these relationships, such that more distressed individuals will show relatively greater enhancement of allergic symptoms during and following stressful times, relative to lower stress periods; (3) Individuals who show greater change in response to the laboratory challenge will also exhibit more severe clinical symptoms, larger spikes in salivary cortisol and norepinephrine, and greater immune change from Th1 to Th2 when facing naturalistic stressors in their daily lives compared to those who are less reactive in the laboratory setting; (4) During pollen season participants will report higher levels of depressive symptoms and will demonstrate greater production of proinflammatory cytokines than when they are out of season. Greater production of proinflammatory cytokines associated with seasonal allergies will be followed by heightened reports of depressive symptoms, and these effects will be magnified during pollen season compared to out of season.
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