Mood and cytokine response to influenza virus in older adults

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2004 Dec;59(12):1328-33. doi: 10.1093/gerona/59.12.1328.


Background: Previous research has indicated that older adults with severe life stress show attenuated immune responses to influenza vaccination. Associations among mood, optimism, stress, and the in vitro cytokine response to influenza virus and vaccine were evaluated in 18 healthy older adults with low to moderate life stress.

Methods: Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were stimulated in cultures with 1999-2000 influenza vaccine viruses (A/Beijing/262/95, A/Sydney/5/97, and B/Yamanashi/166/98) and the 2000-2001 trivalent vaccine (containing A/New Caledonia/20/99, A/Panama/2007/99, and B/Yamanashi/166/98). The levels of T-helper type 1 (interleukin-2 and interferon-gamma) and type 2 (interleukin-10) cytokines were measured in culture supernatants.

Results: Stress, age, and current health practices were unrelated to cytokine production. Older adults reporting greater anger, fatigue, confusion, and total mood disturbance had poorer cytokine responses to live virus and vaccine stimulation. In contrast, older adults who reported greater vigor and those who were more optimistic had greater cytokine responses to both live virus and vaccine. These relationships were largely unaffected by medications or health conditions.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that among older adults, even mild to moderate mood disturbance is associated with an attenuated cellular immune response to live influenza virus and vaccine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines / immunology
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-2 / biosynthesis
  • Male
  • Mood Disorders / immunology*
  • Orthomyxoviridae / immunology*
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / immunology


  • Cytokines
  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interferon-gamma