Psychoneuroendocrine immunology: Perception of stress can alter body temperature and natural killer cell activity

Academic Article


  • Psychoimmunology has been credited with using the mind as a way to alter immunity. The problem with this concept is that many of the current psychoimmunology techniques in use are aimed at alleviating stress effects on the immune system rather than at direct augmentation of immunity by the brain. Studies in animals provide a model that permits us to approach the difficulties associated with gaining an understanding of the CNS-immune system connection. A particular advantage of using animals over humans is that psychological and social contributions play a less prominent role for animals than for human subjects, since the animals are all inbred and reared under identical controlled conditions. If the insightful information provided by animal studies is correct, then psychotherapy for the treatment of diseases might be made more effective if some aspect of this knowledge is included in the design of the treatment. We emphasize conditioning as a regimen and an acceptable way to train the brain to remember an output pathway to raise immunity. We propose that a specific drug or perception (mild stress, represented by rotation, total body heating or handling) could substitute and kindle the same output pathway without the need for conditioning. If this view is correct, then instead of using conditioning, it may be possible to use an antigen to activate desired immune cells, and substitute a drug or an external environmental sensory stimulus (perception) to energize the output pathway to these cells. Alternatively, monitoring alterations of body temperature in response to a drug or perception might allow us to follow how effectively the brain is performing in altering immunity. Studies with animals suggest that there are alternative ways to use the mind to raise natural or acquired immunity in man.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Hiramoto RN; Solvason HB; Hsueh CM; Rogers CF; Demissie S; Hiramoto NS; Gauthier DK; Lorden JF; Ghanta VK
  • Start Page

  • 95
  • End Page

  • 129
  • Volume

  • 98
  • Issue

  • 1-2