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      Psychological Stress and the Risk of Diabetes-Related Autoimmunity: A Review Article

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          The β cell stress hypothesis suggests that any phenomenon that induces insulin resistance, and thereby extra pressure on the β cells, should be regarded as a risk factor for type 1 diabetes (T1D). Psychological stress decreases insulin sensitivity and increases insulin resistance and may hence be important in the development/onset of T1D. The aim of the current review article was to evaluate existing empirical evidence concerning an association between psychological stress and development/onset of T1D as well as diabetes-related autoimmunity. Ten retrospective case-control studies were found. Nine studies showed a positive association between stress and development/onset of T1D in children, adolescents or adults. One study did not find an association between stress and development/onset of T1D. An association between stress and diabetes-related autoimmunity was found at 1 and 2– 3 years of age in a large epidemiological study of the general population. The hypothesis that psychological stress (via β cell stress or direct influence on the immune system) may contribute to the induction or progression of diabetes-related autoimmunity has gained some strong initial support, but is in need of further empirical verification. It seems much clearer that stress can precipitate manifest T1D, although the biological mechanisms are still not known.

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          Most cited references 30

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          How stress influences the immune response.

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            Expanding stress theory: prolonged activation and perseverative cognition.

            Several theories of the stress-disease link have now incorporated prolonged activation. This article argues that these theories still lack an important element, that is, the cognitive nature of the mechanism that causes stress responses to be sustained. The perception of stress and the initial response to it do not automatically lead to prolonged activation. The active cognitive representations of stressors need to be prolonged in order to extend their physiological concomitants. We call this mediating process perseverative cognition, and it is manifested in phenomena such as worry, rumination, and anticipatory stress. We summarize evidence suggesting that these phenomena are indeed associated with physiological activation, including cardiovascular, endocrinological and immunological parameters. This evidence is still far from sufficient, due to the many methodological insufficiencies in the studies involved. Nevertheless, it makes clear that cognitive phenomena characterized by perseverative cognition may be likely candidates to mediate the effects of stress sources on somatic disease. We also argue that there is a dearth of evidence supporting the role of prolonged activation. There are a limited number of studies demonstrating prolonged activity related to stressors and emotional episodes, and their methodologies often do not allow unambiguous conclusions. Even more important, the crucial assumption that prolonged activation actually leads to pathogenic states and disease has received hardly any attention yet and therefore is still largely unsupported. There are only a few studies that showed that anticipatory responses and slow recovery from stress predicted disease states.
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              Chronic stress in elderly carers of dementia patients and antibody response to influenza vaccination.

              There are many reports of psychological morbidity in spousal carers of patients with dementia. The consequences of this increased stress on the immune system are unclear. We investigated whether antibody responses to influenza vaccination differed between carers and a control group, and the relation of the antibody response to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. 50 spousal carers of dementia patients, median age 73 years (IQR 66-77), and 67 controls (68 years [66-71]) of similar socioeconomic status were enrolled. Anxiety and depression were measured by the Savage Aged Personality Screening Scale and stress by the Global Measure of Perceived Stress scale. Principal-component analysis was used to yield a summary score of emotional distress from these two scales. Salivary cortisol concentrations were measured over a single day at three times (0800-1000, 1100-1300, and 2000-2200). Participants received a trivalent influenza vaccine and IgG antibody titres to each strain were measured on days 0, 7, 14, and 28. Mean scores of emotional distress were significantly higher in carers at each time point than in controls (all p<0.0003). Mean (SD) salivary cortisol concentrations, calculated as area under the curve (AUC), were higher in carers than controls at all three assessments (6 months 16.0 [8.0] vs 11.2 [4.4], p=0.0001; respectively). Eight (16%) of 50 carers and 26 (39%) of 67 controls had a four-fold increase in at least one of the IgG titres (p=0.007). There was an inverse relation between AUC cortisol and IgG antibody titre to the Nanchang strain that was significant on day 14 (r=-0.216, p=0.039). Elderly carers of spouses with dementia have increased activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and a poor antibody response to influenza vaccine. Carers may be more vulnerable to infectious disease than the population of a similar age.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                August 2007
                22 August 2007
                : 13
                : 5-6
                : 301-308
                Diabetes Research Centre, Division of Pediatrics, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
                104858 Neuroimmunomodulation 2006;13:301–308
                © 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Tables: 1, References: 63, Pages: 8


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