Chronic Stress Damages the Immune System
May 21, 2013
Prof. Alon Monsonego, Dr. Idan Harpaz and Prof. Hagit Cohen, of BGU’s Faculty of Health Sciences, have pinpointed for the first time the leading causes of damage to the immune system’s immunoregulatory functions in mice under chronic stress.
Their research, recently published in the European Journal of Immunology, highlights how the production and release of hormones such as glucocorticoids (cortisol in humans) can be a double-edged sword for those under stress.
The study suggests that while a high level of glucocorticoids generally protect the body against the worsening of autoimmune diseases, for those under chronic stress, the production of the same hormones could lead to a worsening of their symptoms.
The researchers found that more female mice than male mice were susceptible to contracting an autoimmune disease, similar to multiple sclerosis, as a result of chronic stress.
They are also studying the effects of glucocorticoids in aging and age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s.