Immune responses to stress after stress management training in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

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Introduction: Psychological stress may alter immune function by activating physiological stress pathways. Building on our previous study, in which we report that stress management training led to an altered self-reported and cortisol response to psychological stress in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), we explored the effects of this stress management intervention on the immune response to a psychological stress task in patients with RA.Methods: In this study, 74 patients with RA, who were randomly assigned to either a control group or a group that received short stress management training, performed the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) 1 week after the intervention and at a 9-week follow-up. Stress-induced changes in levels of key cytokines involved in stress and inflammatory processes (for example, interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-8) were assessed.Results: Basal and stress-induced cytokine levels were not significantly different in patients in the intervention and control groups one week after treatment, but stress-induced IL-8 levels were lower in patients in the intervention group than in the control group at the follow-up assessment.Conclusions: In line with our previous findings of lower stress-induced cortisol levels at the follow-up of stress management intervention, this is the first study to show that relatively short stress management training might also alter stress-induced IL-8 levels in patients with RA. These results might help to determine the role of immunological mediators in stress and disease.Trial registration: The Netherlands National Trial Register (NTR1193). © 2013 de Brouwer et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.




De Brouwer, S. J. M., van Middendorp, H., Kraaimaat, F. W., Radstake, T. R. D. J., Joosten, I., Donders, A. R. T., … Evers, A. W. M. (2013). Immune responses to stress after stress management training in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Research and Therapy, 15(6).

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