Academic stress, power motivation, and decrease in secretion rate of salivary secretory immunoglobulin A

Lancet. 1983 Jun 25;1(8339):1400-2. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(83)92354-1.


The effect of academic stress on immune function, as measured by the rate of secretion of salivary secretory immunoglobulin A (s-IgA), was studied prospectively in 64 first-year dental school students. Perceived stress and s-IgA secretion rate were measured five times--during an initial low-stress period, three high-stress periods coinciding with major examinations, and a final low-stress period. The s-IgA secretion rate was significantly lower in high-stress than low-stress periods for the whole group. In addition, personality characteristics differentiated patterns of s-IgA secretion rates. Students characterised by a great need to establish and maintain warm personal relationships secreted more s-IgA at each point than did all other subjects. The s-IgA secretion rates of those with a high inhibited need for power continued to decline through the final low-stress period rather than recovering as in all other subjects.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / analysis*
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory / analysis*
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Personality
  • Saliva / immunology*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / immunology*
  • Students, Dental / psychology*


  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory