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Could Stress Worsen Allergic Reactions?

Posted On: 01-19-2018
Could Stress Worsen Allergic Reactions?
According to a study performed by a research team at Michigan State University, different types of stress can influence how immune cells respond to allergens, which can worsen symptoms.

This study was conducted on mice by looking at a stress receptor called CRF1 (corticotropin-releasing factor) and how it sends signals to specific immune cells, called mast cells, in order to control how they defend the body from pathogens and infections. When the body is experiencing a stressful situation, cells become highly activated. CRF1 tells the cells to release chemical substances that can lead to conditions such as asthma, food allergies, and autoimmune disorders. In turn, this causes histamine in the body to go into overdrive to help the body flush allergens, which can lead to dangerous reactions.

One group of mice in the study had normal CRF1 receptors, while another group had mast cells lacking in CRF1. The histamine responses to stress conditions—both psychological and allergic—were compared. The mice with the normal levels of CRF1 showed high histamine and disease levels when exposed to stress, while the mice without CRF1 had less disease and low histamine levels.

The results of the study suggest that CRF1 is involved in some diseases that could be initiated by stressors. Studies like this can change the way that diseases such as asthma and irritable bowel syndrome are treated in the future, with its closer look at how stress makes us sick.

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