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December 6, 2005

Stress 'hinders healing process'

Topics: Health Issues

Historically, clinicians have suspected that both major and minor stressful events can have health implications. Observations and case reports link severely stressful life events with a sudden onset or worsening of a variety of illnesses.

Now, U.S. researchers report that the stress caused by a 30-minute argument with a spouse is enough to slow wound healing by a day. The Ohio State University team focused on 42 married couples and found wounds on hostile couples healed at 60% of the healing rate for non-hostile couples. Levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a key immune system chemical that controls wound healing, were also particularly elevated in the hostile couples.

High IL-6 levels are linked to long-term inflammation, which in turn is implicated in a range of age-related illnesses, including cardiovascular disease and arthritis. However, stress has also been found to enhance the immune response.

Previously, the effect of interleukin-6 on gene expression of certain cytokines during the wound healing process of mouse skin has been examined:

To examine the effect of the interlukin-6 (IL-6) in wound healing process, gene expression profiles of cytokines including interlukin-1alpha (IL-1alpha), interlukin-1beta (IL-1beta), keratinocyte chemoattractant (KC), macrophage inflammatory protein-1alpha (MIP-1alpha), and macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (MIP-2) during the skin wound healing on the IL-6(+/+) and IL-6(-/-) mice were detected using immunochemical staining and RT-PCR methods at different phases after wound.

The results showed that these cytokines were expressed at early phage after wound, and a expressing peak were found on the third day after wound, and decreased on the sixth day after wound. Meanwhile, on the third and sixth day after wound, all the levels of the five cytokines expressed of the IL6(-/-) mice were significantly lower than those of the IL-6(+/+) mice, but on the first day after wound, only the levels of MIP-1alpha and KC of the IL-6(-/-) mice were lower.

The process of skin wound healing was later in IL-6(-/-) mice than that in IL-6(+/+) mice, but it was complete in IL-6(-/-) mice. These results showed that IL-6 induce expression of the other five cytokines detected, and advance the repair of the wound on skin of mice, but in the mice of IL-6 deletion, the wound healing process was not disturbed significantly.

Posted by Richard at December 6, 2005 7:50 AM



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