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Short Bouts of Stress Boosts Immunity

Posted - Feb. 7, 2004 at 1:20 p.m.



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COLUMBUS, Ohio, Feb 07, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Ohio State University research suggests short bouts of stress increase one's skin's ability to fight infections and heal minor wounds.

The immune response of rats and mice exposed to acute stress -- about two hours of restraint -- was two to four times higher compared with non-stressed animals, according to study leader Firdaus Dhabhar, an OSU associate professor of oral biology and molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics.

The animals' skin was treated with chemical or protein antigens -- an antigen is any substance that the immune system reacts to by producing cells and antibodies -- immediately after the stressful event.

Stress plus exposure to the antigen triggered an immune response that remained strong for weeks to several months later, when the animals were re-exposed to the irritant without further restraint.

Dhabhar is to present his research on the effects of acute stress on skin immunity during next week in Washington during the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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