Background: The severity of symptoms in asthma and other hypersensitivity-related disorders has been associated with changes in mood but little is known about the mechanisms possibly mediating such a relationship. The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of mood on skin reactivity to histamine by comparing the effects of hypnotically induced emotions on flare and wheal reactions to cutaneous histamine prick tests.
Methods: Fifteen highly hypnotically susceptible volunteers had their cutaneous reactivity to histamine measured before hypnosis at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, and 15 min after the histamine prick. These measurements were repeated under three hypnotically induced emotions of sadness, anger, and happiness presented in a counterbalanced order. Skin reactions were measured as change in histamine flare and wheal area in mm2 per minute.
Results: The increase in flare reaction in the time interval from 1 to 3 min during happiness and anger was significantly smaller than flare reactions during sadness (P<0.05). No effect of emotion was found for wheal reactions. Hypnotic susceptibility scores were associated with increased flare reactions at baseline (r=0.56; P<0.05) and during the condition of happiness (r=0.56; P<0.05).
Conclusion: Our results agree with previous studies showing mood to be a predictor of cutaneous immediate-type hypersensitivity and histamine skin reactions. The results are also in concordance with earlier findings of an association between hypnotic susceptibility and increased reactivity to an allergen.