Academic Examinations Significantly Impact Immune Responses, but Not Lung Function, in Healthy and Well-Managed Asthmatic Adolescents
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Brain, Behavior, and Immunity
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The influence of academic examinations on immunity and lung function was investigated in 64 adolescents to determine if stress-related changes would differ between healthy and asthmatic students. Blood samples were collected on three occasions: 1 month prior, during, and 2–3 weeks after exams. Leukocyte subsets were enumerated, andin vitroassays were conducted to assess lymphocyte proliferative and cytolytic responses and neutrophil production of superoxides. Examinations elicited significant changes in several lymphocyte subsets and marked alterations in the three functional measures in all students. However, the magnitude and pattern of change did not differ between healthy and asthmatic students. Similarly, neither mild nor more severe asthmatics showed an exam-related decrement in lung function, as reflected by peak expiratory flow rate. This research validated that examinations are a salient cause of altered immune responses, but indicates that there is not a concomitant aggravation of inflammatory disease in well-managed asthmatics.