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Current Topics in Allergy

Stress and allergy


J Montoro,1 J Mullol,2,3 I Jáuregui,4 I Dávila,5 M Ferrer,6 J Bartra,7,3 A del Cuvillo,8 J Sastre,9,3 A Valero7,3

1 Unidad de Alergia, Hospital La Plana, Vila-Real (Castellón), Spain
2 Unitat de Rinologia & Clínica de l’Olfacte, Servei d’Oto-rino-laringologia, Hospital Clínic Immunoal.lèrgia Respiratòria Clínica i Experimental, IDIBAPS. Barcelona, Spain
3 Centro de Investigación Biomédicac en Red de Enfermedades Respiratorias (CIBERES)
4 Servicio de Alergología, Hospital de Basurto, Bilbao, Spain
5 Servicio de Inmunoalergia, Hospital Universitario, Salamanca, Spain
6 Departamento de Alergia e Inmunología Clínica, Clínica Universitaria de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain
7 Unitat d’Al.lèrgia, Servei de Pneumologia i Al.lèrgia Respiratòria, Hospital Clinic (ICT), Barcelona, Spain
8 Clínica Dr. Lobatón, Cádiz, Spain
9 Servicio de Alergia, Fundación Jiménez Díaz, Madrid, Spain

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2009; Vol. 19, Suppl. 1: 40-47



In recent years it has been seen that the nervous and immune systems regulate each other reciprocally, thus giving rise to a new field of study known as psychoneuroimmunology. Stress is defined as a general body response to initially threatening external or internal demands, involving the mobilization of physiological and psychological resources to deal with them. In other words, stress is characterized by an
imbalance between body demands and the capacity of the body to cope with them. The persistence of such a situation gives rise to chronic stress, which is the subject of the present study, considering its repercussions upon different organs and systems, with special emphasis on the immune system and - within the latter - upon the implications in relation to allergic disease. Activation of the neuroendocrine and sympathetic systems through catecholamine and cortisol secretion exerts an influence upon the immune system, modifying the balance between Th1/Th2 response in favor of Th2 action. It is not possible to affirm that chronic stress is intrinsically able to cause allergy, though
the evidence of different studies suggests than in genetically susceptible individuals, such stress may favor the appearance of allergic disease on one hand, and complicate the control of existing allergy on the other.

Key words: Stress; chronic stress; allergy; psychoneuroimmunology