Acute stress affects the physiology and behavior of allergic mice

M. A. Sutherland, G. P. Shome, L. E. Hulbert, N. Krebs, M. Wachtel, J. J. McGlone

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14 Scopus citations


Physical and psychological stressors have been implicated in acute asthma exacerbation. The objective of the current study was to determine the effects of forced swimming stress (FST) on allergic pulmonary inflammation in BALB/c mice. Eighty female mice were allocated to one of four treatments arranged in a 2 × 2 factorial consisting of two levels of allergy and two levels of stress. The effects of stress and allergy were assessed by examination of cytokines and leukocyte differentials in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, corticosterone and immunoglobulin (Ig) E in the plasma, leukocyte differentials in the peripheral blood, natural killer cytotoxicity, and histopathology of the lungs. Behavior was recorded during the FST. Stress and allergy increased plasma corticosterone in mice. Allergy increased IgE concentrations and pulmonary inflammation. Interleukin-4 was greater among allergic stressed and non-stressed mice and stressed, non-allergic mice compared with non-stressed, non-allergic mice. Interleukin-5 (IL-5) and 6 (IL-6) were greater among allergic stressed and non-stressed mice compared with non-allergic mice. Interleukin-5 and 6 were reduced among stressed-allergic mice compared with non-stressed, allergic mice. Stress and allergy shifted mice towards a T-helper 2 response as shown by increased interleukin-4. Stress reduced IL-5 and IL-6 in allergic mice but not non-allergic mice. Pulmonary inflammation was not reduced among allergic stressed mice in spite of elevated glucocorticoids. Mice induced to be allergic responded to FST differently than non-allergic mice. Our findings suggest that stress induces a differential response among allergic and non-allergic mice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-287
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 7 2009


  • Allergy
  • Asthma
  • Cytokines
  • Mice
  • Stress
  • Swim test


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