Maybe this is relevant to you....Neta (read to the end)

BGU researchers have discovered how prolonged exposure to stress can increase the risk of autoimmune diseases

BEER-SHEVA, Israel, May 1, 2013 – Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers have proven that chronic stress increases the susceptibility to an autoimmune disease similar to multiple sclerosis, which is characterized by damage to the nervous system in the brain. The researchers, Dr. Idan Harpaz and Prof. Alon Monsonego, in conjunction with Prof. Hagit Cohen, characterized for the first time the leading mechanisms which cause damage to immunoregulatory functions of the immune system in mice under chronic stress.

Recently published in the European Journal of Immunology, the research demonstrates that the phenomenon is caused, among other things, by damage to the release of adequate levels of glucocorticoids (steroid hormones termed cortisol in humans and corticosterone in rodents) in response to stimulus, most likely due to a lack of sensitivity in specific cells of the immune system, which cause pathogenic inflammation, to glucocorticoids. As a result, glucocorticoids cannot effectively inhibit the cells that encourage inflammation, which is what generally happens. Moreover, the researchers found that exposure to high levels of glucocorticoids in those suffering from chronic stress reduced the number of immune cells. This increased the number of cells that encouraged pathogenic inflammation compared to those that inhibit it. It is important to note, that the mechanisms appeared more significantly in females than in males and may explain, in part, the higher rates of autoimmune disease in women than in men.

Exposure to stress is one of the most common sources of damage to the body both physically and emotionally. The reaction to stress is characterized by the release of important hormones such as glucocorticoids (released following brain signaling to the adrenal cortex; the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis) that enable the organism to handle stressful situations (fight or flight). At the same time, high levels of glucocorticoids in those suffering from chronic stress harm the body’s immune system and its ability to adequately cope with immune challenges essential to gain homeostasis.

Altogether, the results of the current study suggest that while a high level of glucocorticoids generally protect against the worsening of autoimmune diseases, for those under chronic stress, such treatment could lead to a worsening of their symptoms. Therefore, even though steroids is one of the treatments for chronic inflammation, use of such a treatment, particularly in patients suffering from chronic stress, should be carefully weighed and considered.

The researchers believe that testing the function of the HPA axis can be an important diagnostic tool that can be used to determine how well the immune system is operating. The researchers are also investigating the effects of glucocorticoids in aging and age-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, and report that there is apparently a connection between the effects of glucocorticoids on the immune system and aging.

Monsonego and Harpaz are from the Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Monsonego is also a member of the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Desert. Cohen is the head of the Anxiety and Stress Research Unit, Division of Psychiatry at the Faculty of Health Sciences.

A copy of the article is available upon request.

Photo Caption: Prof. Alon Monsonego (Dani Machlis/BGU)

imagelibrary.bgu.ac.il/pf.t...

For more information:

Prof. Alon Monsonego

Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology and Immunology, FOHS and NIBN

BGU

054-251-6730

alonmon@bgu.ac.il

22 Replies

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  • Mmm. So, keep calm do not get stressed in the first place. After chronic stress before my

    balance issues kicked in I can see how this situation comes about.

    I had Glandular Fever in my teens, I've often wondered if that has any bearing.

  • I also had glandular fever in my teens and after the very quick birth of my son I had three epiletic type fits in a period of 10 days. The doctor said the fits were the result of the shock to my body and i took epileptic drugs for 2 years afterwards. However, my ataxia is genetic not auto-immune but i often wonder if these illnesses had any bearing on the ataxia or the inverse - the illnesses were because of my genetic (unknown at the time) ataxia

  • After sliding on ice in my car and losing control of it, I had a seizure in my sleep.

    Obviously shock played a part in that, I was put on medication as well. My

    mother had similar eye problems to me, poor balance, foggy head etc but was

    never tested for cerebellar ataxia. As far as I know all I tested negative for

    was SCA6.

    Because I've donated DNA, I wonder if this will be tested against any new

    SCAs that a discovered, and if so, would I be notified of a positive result.

  • I'd like to add. I panicked and hyperventilated after having a steroid injection for Iritis.

    It was awful, I felt ill for the rest of the day.

  • Are you okay? N

  • Very interesting and thought provoking! I've often wondered if "stress" could have caused my ataxia, due to mine being of an "unknown cause". I was born with a heart arrithmia, which, as an adult, was put on a beta-blocker drug for. This drug caused clinical depression (a side-effect), and I eventually had cardiac surgery to fix the arrithmia. I was finally feeling much better and my first husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He died when our children were 12 and 14 years. I had worked part-time, but started working full-time after his death. Anyway, those where extremely stressful times in my life! I was diagnosed with my ataxia 10 years ago. I'm remarried now (7 years), my children are now 28 and 31 years, one is married with two children (I'm a grandma...yay...,ha!) and I retired from my job as a social worker 7 years ago, due to my ataxia. Life is good...,ha! Thanks for the info. Neta!

  • Yes. I thought it was interesting too.

    Wow you certainly had your share of stress! Some people, like Holocaust survivors, can absorb immense amounts of stress,others can't. Maybe the effects of the stress come out later in unexplained illnesses. Either way, I belong, apparently, to the second group.My CA was, at first, thought to be of an unknown cause. It all started very mildly in 2005, and my very bitter and prolonged divorce in 2004. I had two nasty bouts of hives which broughton the autoimmunity issue.

    Then CA diagnosis was changed to auto-immune induced when I was found to have elevated anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA) and anti-Gad antibodies.

    I have often wondered what triggered this whole thing. I suspected the stress from my divorce . I never took steroids but have instead been on monthly infusions of IVIg. I also had plaspheresis (blood cleaning) but it ot help.n If I had known it was heading in this direction, I would have done things differently like run for the hills!. How can life be good? How do you cope with your grandchildren? N

  • Hi Neta

    I found your aricle vey interesting. I an male, in fact I dont need to fall down with my condition of unknown cause CA as I dont suffer from stress and I am almost vertical anyway. I am however seing my neurolgist next week and will show him your aticle and ask about glucocortisoids.

    Keep Well

    J

  • Hi there J

    I dont know what you mean by "fall down" and "vertical". But either way good luck with the dr, and let's know what he says. N

  • A) fall down means that I occaisionly fall over.

    B) vertical means that I am very laid back or stress free.

    Will let you know what Doc says next week.

    All the best

    J

  • Oh. Thanx

  • I had Rubella when I was 3 months old. Haven't spoken to any professional yet so will point it out to them if I do. I haven't got a clue if it is responsible for my condition but when I was a child I used to get through a large amount of shoes and suffered the eternal "pick your feet up". Maybe I have had this for life. Look forward to finding out one day.

  • I had Rubella when I was 3 months old. Haven't spoken to any professional yet so will point it out to them if I do. I haven't got a clue if it is responsible for my condition but when I was a child I used to get through a large amount of shoes and suffered the eternal "pick your feet up". Maybe I have had this for life. Look forward to finding out one day.

  • I had Rubella when I was 3 months old. Haven't spoken to any professional yet so will point it out to them if I do. I haven't got a clue if it is responsible for my condition but when I was a child I used to get through a large amount of shoes and suffered the eternal "pick your feet up". Maybe I have had this for life. Look forward to finding out one day.

  • I had Rubella when I was 3 months old. Haven't spoken to any professional yet so will point it out to them if I do. I haven't got a clue if it is responsible for my condition but when I was a child I used to get through a large amount of shoes and suffered the eternal "pick your feet up". Maybe I have had this for life. Look forward to finding out one day.

  • I had Rubella when I was 3 months old. Haven't spoken to any professional yet so will point it out to them if I do. I haven't got a clue if it is responsible for my condition but when I was a child I used to get through a large amount of shoes and suffered the eternal "pick your feet up". Maybe I have had this for life. Look forward to finding out one day.

  • Hymek,

    You don't say whether you have ataxia or other ataxic symptoms such as swaying. What rubella has to do with this, is unclear to me. Maybe you just have something wrong with your feet! Yes, go to the doctor and good luck! N

  • have been stressed out with many situations in life. I try to stay calm but find it's not to easy. I have to keep telling myself!

    berejena

  • I never quite believed it but it really does seem that certain people can be harned physically by stress Now, I am wondering, whether my aunt, who was in a Nazi concentrationcamp and survived nevertheless died young (30 years before her mother) because of stress eating into her immune system. N

  • Overthinking is my biggest enemy, and very hard to overcome. It actually stresses me

    out at times, and has been with me as long as I can remember. This is turn produces

    negative physical symptoms, balance and concentration are noticably worse. It's a

    constant battle of wills.

  • I know what you mean. I am also over-analytical and spend my time worrying and devising

    horrific scenarios and as a result, feeling worse.

  • I know if I get stressed out my hand spasms are so violent I can't control them.....

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