Review| Volume 223, ISSUE 1, P69-77, July 2012

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Psychological stress, immune response, and atherosclerosis

  • Hong-feng Gu
    Corresponding author at: Institute of Cardiovascular Research, University of South China, Hengyang, Hunan 421001, China. Tel.: +86 734 8281288; fax: +86 734 8281288.
    Department of Physiology, University of South China, Hengyang 421001, China

    Key Lab for Arteriosclerology of Hunan Province, Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, University of South China, Hengyang 421001, China
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  • Chao-ke Tang
    Key Lab for Arteriosclerology of Hunan Province, Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, University of South China, Hengyang 421001, China
    Search for articles by this author
  • Yong-zong Yang
    Key Lab for Arteriosclerology of Hunan Province, Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, University of South China, Hengyang 421001, China
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      It is well known that psychological stress is associated with increased atherosclerosis. This response is mainly mediated by altered immune reactions due to either activation or depression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) regulatory feed back mechanisms that influence both the vascular endothelium function and the recruitment of circulating monocytes and their conversion to foam cells. Although the detailed mechanisms behind these processes are not well understood, it has been assumed that expression of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines by stress hormones, such as catecholamines and corticosteroids, maybe involved. In this review, we focus on evidences that various immunological factors are transformed under prolonged psychological stress by causing vascular low-grade inflammation. A better understanding of the bidirectional communication between the neuroendocrine and immune systems may contribute to new treatment strategies.



      HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal), SAM (sympathetic-adrenal-medullary), SNS (sympathetic nervous system), Th1, Th2 (T helper cell type1, T helper cell type 2), NE (norepinephrine), CRF (corticotropin-releasing factor), POMC (proopiomelanocortin), ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), α-MSH (alpha melanocyte-stimulating hormone), CNS (central nervous system), CRP (C-reactive protein), CD (cluster of differentiation), NK (natural killer), CMV (cytomegalovirus), HSV (herpes simplex virus), VZV (varicella zoster virus), IL-1, IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10 (interleukin-1, interleukin-4, interleukin-6, interleukin-8, interleukin-10), NF-κB (nuclear factor-κB), PBMCs (peripheral blood monocytes), apoE−/− mice (apolipoprotein E knockout mice), LDL (low-density lipoprotein), TLRs, TLR4 (Toll-like receptors, Toll-like receptor 4), PRRs (pattern-recognition receptors), SRs (scavenger receptors), oxLDL (oxidized low density lipoprotein), PAMPs (pathogen-associated molecular patterns), PNI (psychoneuroimmunology), GC (glucocorticoid), MR (mineraloreceptor), GR (glucocorticoid receptor), TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor-alpha), LPS (lipopolysaccharide), APPs (acute phase proteins), APR (acute phase response), HSP (heat shock protein), EDA (extra domain A), DAMPs (damage-associated molecular patterns), siRNA (small interfering RNA), MAPKs (mitogen activated protein kinases), MyD88 (myeloid differentiation factor-88), TRIF (TIR domain-containing adapter protein inducing IFN-β), ACS (acute coronary syndrome), CHD (coronary heart disease), M-CSF (macrophage-colony-stimulating factor), ICAM-1 (intercellular adhesion molecule-1), VCAM-1 (vascular cell adhesion molecule-1), MMPs (matrix-degrading matrix metalloproteinases), β-AR (beta-adrenergic receptor), CI (confidence interval)
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