Role of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis in the modulation of pollinosis induced by pollen antigens

Allergol Int. 2010 Jun;59(2):201-6. doi: 10.2332/allergolint.09-OA-0133. Epub 2010 Mar 25.


Background: To clarify the mechanism of stress-induced modification of allergic diseases, we studied the effect of restraint stress on plasma levels of cytokines and the symptoms of pollinosis in mice.

Methods: The effects of restraint stress and the role of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA-axis) in the development of pollen antigen-induced pollinosis were studied in control, hypophysectomized, adrenalectomized or ACTH-administered mice. Twenty days after sensitization, animals were subjected to mild restraint stress for 3 hours, and plasma levels of IFN-gamma, IL-10, and IgE were measured. We analyzed the incidence of sneezing and nasal rubbing in the sensitized animals.

Results: Plasma levels of IL-10 and IgE increased in the sensitized animals with a concomitant increase in the incidence of sneezing and nasal rubbing. The increases in plasma IgE, IL-10 and the incidence of sneezing and nasal rubbing were suppressed by restraint stress. Adrenalectomy increased IFN-gamma, inhibited the increase in plasma IL-10 and IgE, and suppressed the incidence of sneezing. In contrast, hypophysectomy increased plasma levels of IL-10, IFN-gamma, and IgE and the incidence of sneezing. Intraperitoneal administration of ACTH decreased IL-10 in plasma but increased IFN-gamma and suppressed the incidence of nasal rubbing.

Conclusions: The present findings show that the HPA-axis and ACTH play important roles in the regulation of plasma cytokines and IgE thereby modulating symptoms of pollinosis. The results also suggest that a mild restraint stress suppresses the increase in Th2-dependent cytokines and IgE to reduce the symptoms of pollinosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenalectomy
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / administration & dosage
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Plant / immunology
  • Hypophysectomy
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / drug effects
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / immunology*
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / surgery
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Interferon-gamma / blood
  • Interleukin-10 / blood
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / drug effects
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / immunology*
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / surgery
  • Pollen / adverse effects
  • Restraint, Physical
  • Rhinitis
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / blood
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / immunology*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / physiopathology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / surgery
  • Stress, Physiological / immunology


  • Antigens, Plant
  • Interleukin-10
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone