Effect of academic psychological stress in post-graduate students: the modulatory role of cortisol on superoxide release by neutrophils.

Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

PubMedID: 21443430

Ignacchiti MD, Sesti-Costa R, Marchi LF, Chedraoui-Silva S, Mantovani B. Effect of academic psychological stress in post-graduate students: the modulatory role of cortisol on superoxide release by neutrophils. Stress. 2011;14(3):290-300.
Experimental and clinical evidence shows that neutrophils play an important role in the mechanism of tissue injury in immune complex diseases through the generation of reactive oxygen species. In this study, we examined the influence of academic psychological stress in post-graduate students on the capacity of their blood neutrophils to release superoxide when stimulated by immune complexes bound to nonphagocytosable surfaces and investigated the modulatory effect of cortisol on this immune function. The tests were performed on the day before the final examination. The state-trait anxiety inventory questionnaire was used to examine whether this stressful event caused emotional distress. In our study, the psychological stress not only increased plasma cortisol concentration, but it also provoked a reduction in superoxide release by neutrophils. This decrease in superoxide release was accompanied by diminished mRNA expression for subunit p47(phox) of the phagocyte superoxide-generating nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate-oxidase. These inhibitory effects were also observed by in vitro exposure of neutrophils from control volunteers to 10(- 7) M hydrocortisone, and could be prevented by the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU-486. These results show that in a situation of psychological stress, the increased levels of cortisol could inhibit superoxide release by neutrophils stimulated by IgG immune complexes bound to nonphagocytosable surfaces, which could attenuate the inflammatory state.