Psychoneuroimmunology: From Basic Research to Clinical Relevance

Article excerpt

Over the last 25 years, there has been a growing interest in interactions between central nervous, endocrine and immune system. Experiments provide evidence that psychological factors are able to modulate functions of the immune system via neuroendocrine messengers.

Although first studies were already presented in the second decade of the twentieth century, it took a long time, since psychoneuroimmunological research results made it into the textbooks.

In order to introduce the paradigm shift, most of the early studies in psychoneuroimmunology were basic research. The role of stress on the immune system has been extensively described. Classical conditioning has been shown to be a useful tool to demonstrate the relevance of psychological stimuli on the immune system. Most of these studies were done on healthy subjects or healthy animals. When we edited the first state-of-the-art book five years ago (Kugler et al., 1995), we could find only few papers dealing with clinical problems in patients or animal disease models. To our mind, one crucial issue in psychoneuroimmunology is to demonstrate the clinical relevance. The immune system plays an important role for many chronic diseases. Psychoneuroimmunological research can offer new strategies for health promotion and therapy. Psychoneuroimmunology is an interdisciplinary area. In this book, experts from neurology, oncology, oral biology, endocrinology, immunology, anatomy, public health and psychology describe their view on the clinical relevance of psychoneuroimmunological research. …