, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 171-179

The stability of and intercorrelations among cardiovascular, immune, endocrine, and psychological reactivity

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One hundred fifteen college students were exposed to an evaluative speech task twice, separated by 2 weeks. At both sessions, we assessed cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, and psychological response at baseline and during the task. We found stability across sessions for stress-induced increases in anxiety and task engagement, heart rate, blood pressure, norpinephrine (but not epinephrine), cortisol, natural killer cell cytotoxicity, and numbers of circulating CD3+, CD8+, and CD56+ (but not CD4+ or CD19+) lymphocytes. The stable cardiovascular, immune, and endocrine reactivities were intercorrelated, providing evidence of a unified physiological stress response across these outcomes. Although stable stress-induced increases in task engagement were associated with the physiological stress responses, stress-induced anxiety was not.

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Preparation of this manuscript was supported in part by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (MH50429; MH50430), by supplements from the National Institutes of Health Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health, and by a grant from the National Institutes of Health to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center General Clinical Research Center (NCRR/GCRC 5M01 RR00056). Dr. Cohen’s participation is supported by a Senior Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health (MH00721).
We are indebted to Erik Jacobson, Laurie Nelson, Anna Marsland, Janet Schlarb, Clemens Kirschbaum, and the staff of the General Clinical Research Center for their contributions to this research effort.