Neuroimmune Interactions and Psychologycal Stress Induced by Cohabitation with a Sick Partner: A Review
Joao Palermo-Neto and Glaucie Jussilane Alves
Affiliation: Neuroimmunomodulation Research Group, Departamento de Patologia, Faculdade de Medicina Veterinaria e Zootecnia, USP, Av. Prof. Dr. Orlando Marques de Paiva, 87, CEP: 05508-270.
Keywords: Neuroimmunomodulation, psychological stress, catecholamines, innate immunity, sympathetic nervous systems, tumor growth,
This study reviews the neuroimmunological consequences elicited in mice from long-term cohabitation with tumor-bearing
conspecifics. Two types of experiments were performed; one used Swiss female mice and Ehrlich tumor cells, and the other used
C57Bl/6 female mice and B16F10 melanoma cells. The female Swiss mice and the C57Bl/6 mice were divided into two groups, i.e., control
and experimental. One mouse in each control pair was treated with control solutions (1.0 mL/kg); the other was kept undisturbed and
called the ‘companion of health partner’ (CHP). One mouse in each experimental pair was inoculated with 5 x 106 Ehrlich tumor cells or
with 106 murine B16-F10 melanoma cells; the other mouse, which was the subject of the performed studies, was left undisturbed and
called the ‘companion of sick partner’ (CSP). Although we used two different strains of mice and two different tumor types, the CSP
mice presented, in relation to the CHP mice, an increased locomotion in the open field and plus maze apparatuses and no changes in the
corticosterone serum levels before and after the immobilization-stress challenge. The Swiss CSP mice showed a reduced level and an increased
turnover rate of hypothalamic noradrenaline (NE), as well as increased plasmatic levels of adrenaline and NE. Changes in the
immune cell phenotype and activity were also observed in the Swiss and C57Bl/6 CSP mice. The study found that odor cues left by the
Ehrlich tumor-injected Swiss mice are aversive and may therefore be responsible for the neuroimmune changes reported in the CSP mice.
It is proposed that the final neural link between the neuroimmunological changes observed in the CSP mice involves psychogenic stress
imposed by the housing condition and the activation of the brain catecholaminergic pathways and the sympathetic nervous systems.
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