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Exam stress may affect immune systems

by Medindia Content Team on August 19, 2006 at 12:49 PM
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Exam stress may affect immune systems

Mental stress that some students experience while taking their exams may also affect their immune defence system, more so if they have an allergy , scientists say.

Mats Lekander and other scientists at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm examined how a major medical exam affects stress hormone levels, the immune system and lung function among students with and without allergies.

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The extensive tests were conducted on two occasions - first during a calm period with no exam in sight, and then shortly before a major exam, according to a report that appeared on the institute's website.

Twenty-two students with hay fever and/or asthma and 19 healthy students took the test.

The researchers found that there are important links between mental stress and the complex physical inflammation reactions characteristic of allergies.
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For the first time on record, scientists were able to show that a group of cells that are central to the human immune system - known as regulatory T cells - appear to increase sharply when the students were under stress.

A regulatory T cell is a kind of white blood cell that controls the activity of a number of other types of immune cells. This increase was observed in both groups of students.

The study also showed that blood concentrations of a group of inflammation products called cytokines had changed and shifted against a pattern associated with allergic inflammation in students with allergies, but remained normal in healthy students.

Source: (IANS)
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