A cross-sectional study on the relationship of job stress with natural killer cell activity and natural killer cell subsets among healthy nurses

J Occup Health. 2005 Sep;47(5):378-83. doi: 10.1539/joh.47.378.


The present study investigated the effects of job stress on cellular immune function, such as NK cell activity and NK cell subsets. The participants were 61 female nurses aged 23-59, who worked in a public psychiatric hospital in Ishikawa, Japan. Each subject completed the Nursing Job Stressor Scale (NJSS) and their NK cell activity and lymphocyte surface antigens (CD16+56+) were evaluated as immune system parameters. The NJSS has seven subscales: conflict with other nursing staff, nursing role conflict, conflict with physicians or autonomy, conflict with death or dying, quantitative work load, qualitative work load and conflict with patients. Factors influencing NK cell activity, and the proportion and cell counts of CD16+56+ lymphocytes were evaluated. Increase in quantitative work load significantly decreased NK cell activity. Conversely, no linear relationship was observed between qualitative work load and immunological variables, with the highest percentage of CD16+56+ lymphocytes observed among participants in the medium work load group. The other five NJSS subscales did not relate to immune parameters. In conclusion, the results suggest that perceived job strains, particularly quantitative work load, decreased NK cell function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Receptors, IgG / immunology
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / immunology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workload / psychology*


  • Receptors, IgG