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Colleen Schaffner


The effects of stress on immune system functioning is an important area of current and upcoming research. In order to determine the importance of stressor type on immune dysfunction, the effects of psychological and physiological stress on immune systems in mice were monitored through both molecular and behavioral means. Groups of mice were systematically exposed to non-contact exposure to a rat in order to induce psychological stress, and forced periods of swimming to induce physiological stress. The stress exposure was applied every other day for 30 days to create a chronic stress situation. Stress levels imposed by the stressors were monitored previous and post the stress exposure via serum interleukin-1ß concentrations and instantaneous focal samplings of behavioral changes. No conclusive evidence was found to either directly support or reject the hypothesis of intensity not stressor type mediation. However, experimental trends suggested the presence of social contact as a shield to immune dysfunction, and possible benefits of adaptation to physiological stress. Further research is needed to gather empirical evidence to support these findings.

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