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Prather, Aric Andrew (2007) PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESS AND IMMUNE FUNCTION AMONG MILD ASTHMATICS. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition characterized by acute bronchoconstriction and a protracted inflammatory response marked by elevated levels of T-helper (Th)-2 cytokine production. Common precipitants of asthma exacerbation include allergens (e.g. pollen), viruses (e.g. URI); however, recent evidence has demonstrated that psychological stress can also be a trigger. While the pathophysiological mechanism linking stress and asthma exacerbation is unknown, modulation of the immune system has been proposed as one potential pathway. The primary aim of this study was to examine impact of examination stress (i.e. Pennsylvania bar exam) on Th2 and Th1 cytokine production and other asthma-relevant immune parameters among asthmatics and healthy controls. To this end, five mild asthmatics and 10 healthy controls completed a battery of psychosocial measures and underwent venipuncture for immunological assessment one week prior and one month following the Pennsylvania bar exam. Overall, participants reported greater levels of distress during the exam period when compared to the post-exam period. With respect to immunological changes, a group (asthmatic vs non-asthmatic) by period (exam vs. post-exam) interaction was observed on Th1 cytokine production, with non-asthmatic participants showing a stress-related decrease in Th1 cytokine production, i.e. IFN-gamma production. In addition, basal differences in IFN-gamma production were observed with asthmatics producing lower levels of IFN-gamma relative to non-asthmatics, potentially rendering asthmatics more susceptible to viral infections. Exploratory analyses of health behaviors revealed an intriguing relationship between alcohol consumption and IFN-gamma production that warrants further investigation. Future studies employing larger sample sizes are needed to better interpret these findings.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Prather, Aric Andrewaap12@pitt.eduAAP12
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMarsland, Anna Lmarsland@pitt.eduMARSLAND
Committee MemberBaum,
Committee MemberCohen,
Date: 23 January 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 24 October 2006
Approval Date: 23 January 2007
Submission Date: 29 November 2006
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: asthma; immune; stress
Other ID:, etd-11292006-120915
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:06
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:52


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