Stress, distress and a variety of psychiatric illnesses, notably the affective disorders,
are increasingly reported to be associated with immunosuppression. The concept that
psychic distress may predispose to medical illness is centuries old but has only recently
attracted the attention of the scientific community at large. Interdisciplinary collaboration
has established psychoneuroimmunology, or neuroimmunomodulation, as a new field of
investigation with the goal of rigorous scientific research into the elusive mind-body
connection. This has resulted in the rapid accumulation of information which falls
across the boundary lines of psychiatry, immunology, neurosciences and endocrinology.
Here David Khansari, Anthony Murgo and Robert Faith review the effects of stress on
the endocrine and central nervous systems and the interactions between these systems
and the immune response after exposure to stress signals.