SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- A Michigan State University (MSU) researcher has discovered how stress induces disease, a finding that may lead to future therapies for people suffering from common stress-related illnesses.
Adam Moeser, an MSU associate professor, led the federally-funded study on how certain types of stress act on immune cells and regulate their response to allergens, substances that induce allergy, ultimately causing physical symptoms and illness.
The findings of the study, published in the "Journal of Leukocyte Biology", claim that a stress receptor, known as the corticotropin-releasing factor or the CRF1, can send signals to certain immune cells, called mast cells, and control the way they defend the human body.
When a person is in a stressful situation, the mast cells are activated in response. The CRF1 tells these cells to release chemical substances that can cause inflammatory and allergic diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome, asthma or food allergies.
Moeser conducted experiments on mice and found that mice without the CRF1 were better protected against stress.
The study also found that CRF1-deficient mice exposed to stress had a 54 percent less chance of contracting stress-related diseases than those with the receptor.
Moeser said his study was a step forward in decoding the causes of stress leading to disease, which may help improve the quality of life of patients suffering from stress-induced illness.