Influence of psychosocial, psychogenic and neurogenic stressors on several aspects of immune functioning in mice

W. U.L.U. Zheng, Shawn Hayley, Arun V. Ravindran, Zul Merali, Hymie Anisman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Analysis of stressor effects on immune functioning is complicated by the fact that the nature of the changes observed may be influenced by organismic factors (e.g., species, strain, age), the nature, severity and chronicity of the stressor, as well as the specific immune parameters being examined. It is demonstrated in the present investigation that in the highly reactive inbred BALB/cByJ mouse, the relatively hardy C57BL/6ByJ strain, as well as in the noninbred CD-1 strain, acute psychogenic (predator exposure) and neurogenic (footshock) stressors reduced splenic macrophage activity, and this effect was less marked after a chronic stressor. With protracted, but not transient, psychosocial disturbances (isolated housing) similar effects were seen, suggesting that the effect was not simply due to a change of the social mileau. The psychogenic and neurogenic stressors also enhanced LPS-stimulated lymphocyte proliferation in CD-1, but not in the inbred strains. However, isolated housing reduced both B and T cell proliferation, indicating that social isolation likely affects processes distinct from those of other stressors. Interestingly, when the aversiveness of the psychogenic stressor was increased (by decreasing the distance between the rat and the mouse) LPS- stimulated lymphocyte proliferation was reduced in the reactive BALB/cByJ strain, but increased in the hardy C57BL/6ByJ mice. This stressor, however, enhanced T cell proliferation in both strains of mice. It is suggested that analysis of stressor effects need to consider in greater detail the characteristics of the organism being stressed, as well as the characteristics of the stressor itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-70
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Immunosuppression
  • Isolated housing
  • Lymphocyte proliferation
  • Macrophages
  • Neurogenic
  • Psychogenic
  • Stress


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