Temporal variation of acute stress responses in sympathetic nervous and immune systems

Biol Psychol. 2005 Oct;70(2):131-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2004.12.006.


Sympathetic nervous activity plays a prominent role in acute stress responses in the immune system, enhancement of innate immunity and suppression of specific immunity. The present study was conducted to examine the temporal characteristics of such immune responses to acute stress and to determine their association with sympathetic activity in detail. For this purpose, 15 female undergraduates engaged in a continuous mental arithmetic task for 14 min, and we collected their blood samples for immune indices (CD3+ T cells, CD4+ T cells, NK cells) each 3 min during the task and saliva samples before and after the task. Our results showed that the proportion of Natural Killer cells (NK cells) increased even 2 min after initiation of the task, whereas proportions of CD3+ and CD4+ lymphocytes decreased 8 min after initiation of the task. Moreover, we found significant correlations between cardiovascular activity and the variations of immune indices.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • CD3 Complex / analysis
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Male
  • Stress, Psychological / immunology*
  • Time Factors


  • CD3 Complex