Social stress may enhance the body’s immune defenses against influenza virus

Traditionally, quite a lot of stress depresses the body’s defenses. But a study by American scientists suggests that the so-called social stress, which living creature can survive, being surrounded by an aggressive group of their own kind, not only suppresses the immune system, but even increases it, helping the body to successfully cope with the flu virus. Struggle for a place in the social hierarchy mobilizes the immune system.

An interesting experiment was conducted by researchers from the medical research Institute of behavioral reactions at the University of the U.S. state of Ohio (Ohio State University’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research). In experiments on mice exposed to a stressful situation, it was determined that the fight for a place in the group hierarchy increased the resistance of their body to the flu virus in 10 times.

Usually in a group of mice is a struggle for dominance, and after a short period of time as a result of natural selection, the hierarchy is built. Dominated by the most aggressive and strong mouse.

The researchers, led by Jacqueline Mays (Jacqueline Mays), were placed in cells in 5 mice. During the first few days in each cell was established chain of command, lined up in a hierarchy. On the sixth day in a cage for two hours tucked pre-selected an exceptionally strong and aggressive mouse. This continued for the next six days. Mouse fought in turn with each of the 5 inhabitants of the cells and each time was won. Thus regularly violated previously established hierarchy among the five “natives” of the cell. Subsequently, the “natives” were infected with influenza virus and produced a collection of blood, tissue for research on humoral immune response, populations of T-lymphocytes – the main factors in the immune defense of the organism.

To the surprise of researchers, the stress experienced by the mice not only lowered their immunity, but significantly increased the number of T-lymphocytes. “Not always stress suppresses the immune system. Some stressors are, in fact, motivate her, raising protective forces of an organism”, – explained the phenomenon of John Sheridan (John Sheridan), Professor of biology from the same University.

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