Immune responses to stress in rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2014 Oct;53(10):1844-8. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keu221. Epub 2014 May 20.


Objective: Stress is one of the factors that may exacerbate the progression of chronic inflammatory diseases such as RA and psoriasis. We exploratively compared the effects of acute stress on levels of circulating cytokines involved in disease progression and/or the stress response in patients with RA, patients with psoriasis and healthy subjects.

Methods: Patients with RA, patients with psoriasis and healthy controls underwent a standardized psychosocial stress test (Trier Social Stress Test). Levels of circulating cytokines (IL-1β, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-7, IL-8, IL-10, IFN-γ and TNF-α) were measured before and after the stress test.

Results: The baseline levels of all cytokines, except IL-8, were significantly higher in patients with RA. After correction for baseline levels, patients with RA showed higher stress-induced levels of IL-1β and IL-2 than patients with psoriasis and healthy controls.

Conclusion: The results suggest that patients with RA have a different immune response to stress than patients with psoriasis or healthy controls. More needs to be learned about the complex interaction between stress, immune parameters and chronic inflammation.

Keywords: cytokines; immune system; psoriasis; rheumatoid arthritis; stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / blood
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psoriasis / blood
  • Psoriasis / complications
  • Psoriasis / immunology*
  • Stress, Psychological / blood
  • Stress, Psychological / immunology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology


  • Cytokines