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PSYC 365 Chapter Notes -Upper Respiratory Tract Infection, Immunocompetence, Herpesviridae

Course Code
PSYC 365
David Cox

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Psyc 365- Ch 4 (Psychoneuroimmunology)
Immunocompetence= extent to which our immune system is functioning properly to ward off
oSelf hypnosis and massage therapy can reduce exam related effects on immune system
by decreasing stress
oPsychoneuroimmunology (PNI)= study of rlnsp b/w psychological states and the
functioning of the immune system
Psycho (psychology) affects NS functioning (neuro) which in turn affects immune
function (immunology)
Look at NS, endocrine and immune systems
The importance of PNI to health psych:
oProvides data in a form that makes sense to ppl whose training is biochemical in nature
so invaluable bridge b/w social scientists and health care providers
oHow immune system function is measured in PNI research:
DV measured to see effect of manipulation, in PNI the DV is immunocompetence
IV is psychological state
Hard b/c many sites of immune system, many varieties of cellular activity
in immune system
oCounting cells to measure immunocompetence:
Immune system function is dependent on system’s ability to produce/proliferate
(cells to do its work)
Count cells (typically white blood cells) as they occur in bloodstream-
Enumerative assay
oCount WBC such as NK, T and B cells and look for minimum
number of cells needed for adequate eimmune function and
balance b/c various cell types
oIn general, the higher the counts are, the better the immune
oFunctional tests of Immunocompetence: measuring cells in action
Functional tests of immunity= assess immune system at work

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Can perform inside body (harder) or remove cells from body and
incubating them w/other cells to see how immune system works
outside body tests=in vitro, inside body= In vivo
in vitro tests start w/blood sample that’s combined w/Mitogen (relatively
harmless substance that stimulates immune activity as tho immune
system were acting against antigen/invader
o3 most common Mitogens= Concanavalin A (Con A),
phytohemagglutinin (PHA) and Pokeweed Mitogen (PWM)
oBlood samples taken from ppl who differed in amnt of
confrontation they experienced in their interactions w/others
were incubated w/PHA and from this it was discovered tthat
blood of ppl w/less confrontational interactions produced more
lymphocytes when put w/PHA
oNatural killer cell activity also measured thru in vitro techniques
NK seek and detroy so activity measured by exposing
them to disease (usually tumor) cells
After exposure NK cells assessed by either:
Proliferation measured thru cell counts after intro
of antigen
Effectiveness assessed thru measuring
destruction of antigens (NK cell cytotoxic activity
Process of killing antigens (tumor cells) is NK Cell Lysis
NK cells not the only ones capable of cytotoxic activity,
commonly used in cancer studies
oNumber of in vivo functional tests of immunocompetence
1 takes advantage of almost everyone carrying herpes
virus, other uses injections of small doses of antigens
Ppl w/herpes virus always have it but have differing
levels of Antibodies (Ab) to flag virus for destruction
When immune system suppressed, more need
for Ab so measure it (the higher the Ab count,
the poorer the immune function)
Intro small antigen doses then:

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Skin observed at site of injection (if immune
system ok then should be swlling/redness)
Also count antigen specific AB produced in
response to injection (thru blood samples or
mucous secretions from saliva)
oAntibody commonly measured in saliva
is sIgA (secretory or salivary
In herpesvirus studies higher Ab indicates
immunosuppression, in injection studies more Ab
indicates better immunocompetence
oMethodological issues in the measurement of immune system function:
Short term vs Long term effects:
In lab common for exposure to Acute stressor (immediate stressor in
duration and proximity)
oEffects measured thru blood samples taken juts before, just after
and then again a while later after stressor introduced
oAcute stressors can enhance immune function by stimulating
nonspecific/innate immunity while suppressing specific immunity
Chronic stress suppresses both nonspecific and specific
oChronic/long term stress= ie trait anxiety, job stress, marital
problems etc...
Harder to measure in the lab so field study instead (tho
harder to establish definitive cause effect rlnshp b/c so
many uncontrollable 3rd variables)
Immune system function takes many forms:
So PNI studies often w/multitude of dif DVs
Statistical significance vs Clinical significance:
Tp prove some aspect of immune function has been affected we must be
able to show that the dif in cell count or cyto toxis activity b/w subjects is
large enough to have not occurred by chance (statistically significant)
Hard to study symptoms and immune functioning
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