Indexed on: 22 May '01Published on: 22 May '01Published in: Medical Hypotheses
Stress has been shown to modulate an individual's immune system through the release of certain signal molecules such as catecholamines, cytokines and glucocorticoids. These signal molecules can significantly alter the host immune system and leave it susceptible to a primary or recurrent viral infection. Focusing on herpes simplex virus types-1 and -2 as examples, the authors explain how stress-associated immunomodulation can influence the recurrence of herpes simplex viral infections. Specific signal molecules such as epinephrine, interleukin-6, cyclic adenosine monophosphate, glucocorticoids and prostaglandins are upregulated during episodes of acute and chronic stress and have been implicated as effectors of herpes simplex viral reactivation and recurrent disease. The authors suggest that the release of immunomodulating signal molecules due to stress can compromise the host's cellular immune response and trigger herpes simplex viral reactivation.