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  • 1 Institute of Biochemistry, Biological Research Center of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Szeged, Hungary
  • 2 Institute of Biochemistry, Biological Research Center of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Szeged, Hungary
  • 3 Institute of Biochemistry, Biological Research Center of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences P.O. Box 521, H-6701 Szeged, Hungary
  • 4 Institute of Biochemistry, Biological Research Center of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; Institute of Medical Microbiology, Albert Szent-Györgyi Medical And Pharmaceutical Center Szeged University, Szeged, Hungary
  • 5 Institute of Biochemistry, Biological Research Center of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences P.O. Box 521, H-6701 Szeged, Hungary
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Psychological stress modulates the immune system through the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, the sympatho-adrenomedullary axis and the opioid system. According to literature data, restraint stress increases the immune cell apoptosis, decreases the spleen and thymus cell content, the natural killer (NK) activity in the spleen, and it compromises the anti-tumor immune response in mice. We immobilized mice in two consecutive nights, and then determined the cell number, apoptosis, NK cell content, NK activity and the level of cytokine mRNAs (TNF-β, TNF-α, IL-4, IL-5, IL-1α, IFN-γ, IL-2, IL-6, IL-1β and IL-3) in the thymus and spleen. No consistent changes were detected in any of the immune parameters either in C57Bl/6 or in DBA/2 mice. Stressed or control B6 mice were injected with B16 melanoma cells immediately after the immobilization or one week later. No significant differences were found in the growth of primary tumors and lung metastases in stressed and control animals. Taken together, our mice, kept in a general-purpose non-SPF animal house, seemed to be refractory to the stress-induced immunomodulation. Our interpretation is that stress-induced immunomodulation can occur only in mice isolated from any background stressors, or rather natural stimuli, throughout their life.

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