Searching for the biological pathways between stress and health

Annu Rev Public Health. 1997:18:437-62. doi: 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.18.1.437.


Population-based, person-specific health surveys, with concomitant biological measures, should provide important information about the processes by which socioeconomic and psychosocial factors embed themselves in human health. Questionnaire responses allow for assessment of the perceived psychosocial environment, but biological measurements will measure the status of the psychoneuroimmunology/ psychoneuroendocrinology (PNI/PNE) pathways and may allow us to identify people who have "adapted" to their stress because of experience, expectations, stoicism, etc. This review sets criteria to evaluate potential physiological markers of chronic stress. Because population health surveys involve a massive number of samples, special consideration must be given to the laboratory analysis method and transportation time of the markers chosen. We reviewed five areas: glycosylated proteins, the immune system, hemostasis peripheral benzodiazepine receptors, and the waist-hip ratio.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Chronic Disease
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Population Surveillance
  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Social Environment*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / immunology
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*


  • Biomarkers