Adversity may act similar to a vaccine, stimulating resilience
Courtesy of Miles Herkenham
Stress may act a bit like a vaccine, spurring the immune system to build up resilience to it.
A new study in mice shows that immune cells can create a memory of stress and possibly defend the body against the ill effects of adversity. The results, published in the Jan. 28 Journal of Neuroscience, also indicate that some immune cells could become good targets for developing treatments for anxiety and depression.
In the experiment, researchers injected immune cells from stressed mice into the veins of mice bred to have partially ineffective immune systems. After receiving the cell transplant, the recipient mice became less anxious and more social. “That was a surprise,” says Miles Herkenham, a neurophysiologist at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. “We expected the cells to make the mice more anxious and depressed.”
The antidepressant effect may be the