The immune system is basically an interaction between cells and cellular products. The white blood cells (leukocytes), which are the main fighter cells of the immune system are made up of three classes; lymphocytes, monocytes, and granulocytes. Each type of cell has its own functions. Lymphocytes for instance, are subdivided into B cells, T-helper cells, T-suppressor cells, and natural killer cells. B cells are generally responsible for the production and secretion of antibodies. T-cells are responsible for making close and direct contact with the antigen. The other T cells are responsible for regulating the immune system; T-helper cells enhance whereas T-suppressor cells decrease the response.
In measuring the immune response, there are two basic ways; quantitatively measuring levels of cells, or second by using a functional measurement. In quantitative measurements, they are either a measure of the number of cells in a given volume of blood, or a percentage of each type of cell. In a functional measurement, lymphocytes, for example, are exposed to a non-specific antigen (mitogen) and the results of the exposure are then observed (O'Leary, 1990).
The psychosocial state of a person can have direct impacts on the immune system. For instance, stress has many different effects on the endocrine systems, including the well known fight or flight activation which is activations of the sympathetic adrenal-medullary (SAM) system, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPAC) system, and other endocrine systems.
Effects of Stress on the Immune System
Internal factors such as stress have been implicated in causing a deficient immune system because of the nature of the body's response in dealing with this problem. The capabilities of the immune system are diminished after frequent activation of the autonomic nervous system in the case of chronic stresses. The immune system is downgraded to be able to continuously functioning.
In a large study involving...