Effects of Stress on the Immune System - Research Paper Example

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Stress does have a profound effect on the immune system. Though stress was initially considered to exert a physiological effect in the human body, later studies have revealed that it also affects the immune system by changing the immune response to infectious agents and environmental pollutants…
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Effects of Stress on the Immune System
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Download file to see previous pages Stress does have a profound effect on the immune system. Though stress was initially considered to exert a physiological effect in the human body, later studies have revealed that it also affects the immune system by changing the immune response to infectious agents and environmental pollutants. Further studies have shown that depending on the nature and duration of the stressful event the immune system can either be enhanced or depressed. These immune changes however, have minimal clinical consequences in healthy individuals, but the weakening of the immune system in response to aging and disease results in prominent changes in the immunity of the individual to stress. Stress has also been linked to the progression of various diseases such as tumors and autoimmune diseases. The changes in immune response are mediated by signals from the endocrine and nervous system which are the initially responders to the environmental stresses. Various stress hormones released in response to stress play a role in the activation or suppression of the immune cells. While in majority of the cases stress has a detrimental effect on the functioning of the immune system, in some cases acute limited stress have been shown to up regulate natural immunity parameters that are useful in protection against a possible injury or infection.
Stress has for long been linked to changes in the physiology of humans such an increased delivery of oxygen and glucose to the heart muscles. However, researchers have shown that apart from these physiological changes stress also affects the immune response of an individual....
The hypothalamus controls the secretion of hormones from the pituitary, adrenal cortex and medulla. When this hypothalamus- pituitary- adrenal cortex axes is subjected to chronic activation it can have a pronounced effect on the health through continued secretion of hormones. When the receptors for glucocorticoid (GC) hormones present on the immune cells are bound by GC hormones they interfere with the activity of NF-kB which in turn suppresses the secretion of cytokines by these cells. The activation of the HPA axis also causes the secretion of catecholamine’s from the adrenal medulla which also binds to adrenergic receptors on the immune cells and increases the production of cytokines and antibody which is the body’s immediate response to stress. However, when subject to chronic activation these hormones can have a similar effect like the GC on the immune cells (Padgett & Glaser, 2003). While these stress hormones make us resistant to the effects of stressors by increasing heart rate, blood pressure and sugar levels to combat the perceived threat, they however have a deleterious effect on the immune system when produced chronically (Psychological Stress and Cancer, 2012). For example, the release of cortisol under conditions of stress has been found to have an inhibitory effect on the synthesis and activity of white blood cells. In addition it has also been found to interfere with communication of immune cells thus preventing them from providing the necessary protection to the body (Hussain, 2010). The effect of stress hormones on the immune system has been studied in great detail during the past decade. Hormones released by various glands in response to stress ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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The topic of "Effects of Stress on the Immune System" is quite often seen among the assignments in university. Still, this document opens a new perspective of seeing the issue. I’ll use the style for my own example.
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