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October 2021

Psychological influences on the perception of immune function

Author(s): Booth, R. J., Elder, H., Cameron, L. D.

Journal/Book: Psychol Med. 1999; 29: 40 West 20Th Street, New York, NY 10011-4211, USA. Cambridge Univ Press. 391-397.

Abstract: Background. Perception of deficiencies in immunity are common in a number of patient complaints. However, little is known about the way in which individuals form perceptions about the competence of their immune system. In two studies we examined the relationship between subjects' perceptions of their immune functioning, physical symptoms, mood and measures of immunity. Methods. In Study 1, 20 healthy volunteers completed global ratings of their immune system functioning, as well as mood and symptom reports, twice a week for 5 weeks. At the same time, blood samples were taken to assess serum IgA, IgG, and IgM antibodies. In Study 2, another sample of 58 subjects completed the same measures weekly for 5 weeks and their blood was tested for concentrations of CD3, CD4, CD8, and CD16 lymphocytes. Results. We found perceptions of immune functioning to be unrelated to the concentrations of serum antibodies or blood lymphocytes. Immune perceptions were strongly related to mood and in particular, feelings of fatigue and vigour. The experience of recent physical symptoms, while not as strong as mood variables, was also important in perceptions of immune functioning. Conclusions. Mood seems to be an important determinant in the perception of immune function, and complaints about immune dysfunction in clinical situation should be investigated with this possibility in mind.

Note: Article Petrie KJ, Univ Auckland, Fac Med & Hlth Sci, Dept Psychiat & Behav Sci, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, NEW ZEALAND


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