Researchers from University of Medicine Berlin and McMaster University in Canada have found that stress may activate immune cells in the skin, leading to inflammatory skin disease.
This cross talk between stress perception, which involves the brain, and the skin is mediated through the "brain-skin connection".
The immune cells in skin can over-react, resulting in inflammatory skin diseases like atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.
Study leader Dr. Petra Arck hypothesized that stress could exacerbate skin disease by increasing the number of immune cells in the skin.
The researcher said that the team exposed mice to sound stress, and found that the stress challenge resulted in higher numbers of mature white blood cells in the skin.
Moreover, blocking the function of two proteins that attract immune cells to the skin, LFA-1 and ICAM-1, prevented the stress-induced increase in white blood cells in the skin.
Based on their observations, the researchers came to the conclusion that stress activates immune cells, which in turn are central in initiating and perpetuating skin diseases.
The study appears in the November issue of The American Journal of Pathology.