Concepts and Models of Immunological Change during Prolonged Stress

  • Christopher L. Coe


An understanding of the relationship between stress and immunity is critical for students and researchers in psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), because this type of immune alteration directly addresses several controversial tenets of the discipline. Over the last three decades we have learned a remarkable amount about how immune responses change during and after stressful events, but there is still considerable debate over the normal versus pathotogical nature of these shifts in immunity. For example, should these stress-induced changes be considered adaptive or maladaptive? What types of life events are aversive and disruptive enough to elicit a sufficiently large and prolonged immune impairment to actually result in an immune-related disease? This chapter reviews some important concepts and findings that will help to answer these questions.


Cytolytic Activity Immunological Change Immune Competence Prolonged Stress Lymphocyte Proliferative Response 
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Further Reading on Stress and Immunity

  1. Cohen, S., & Williamson, G. M. (1991). Stress and infectious disease in humans. Psychological Bulletin, 109, 5–24.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cohen, S., Kessler, R. C., & Gordon, L. U. (1995). Measuring stress. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Jemmott, J. B., & Locke, S. E. (1984). Psychosocial factors, immunologic mediation, and human susceptibility to infectious diseases: How much do we know? Psychological Bulletin, 78, 78–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., & Glaser, R. (1991). Stress and the immune function in humans. In R. Ader, D. L. Felten, & N. Cohen (Eds.), Psychoneuroitntnunology (2nd ed., pp. 849–857). San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  5. O’Leary, A. (1990). Stress, emotion, and human immune function. Psychological Bulletin, 108. 363–382.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher L. Coe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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