Behavioral conditioning of immunosuppression is possible in humans

Marion U. Goebel, Almuth E. Trebst, Jan Steiner, Yu F. Xie, Michael S. Exton, Stilla Frede, Ali E. Canbay, Martin C. Michel, Uwe Heemann, Manfred Schedlowski

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Behavioral conditioned immunosuppression has been described in rodents as the most impressive demonstration of brain-to-immune system interaction. To analyze whether behavioral conditioned immunosuppression is possible in humans, healthy subjects in this double-blind, placebo-controlled study were conditioned in four sessions over 3 consecutive days, receiving the immunosuppressive drug cyclosporin A as an unconditioned stimulus paired with a distinctively flavored drink (conditioned stimulus) each 12 h. In the next week, re-exposure to the conditioned stimulus (drink), but now paired with placebo capsules, induced a suppression of immune functions as analyzed by the IL-2 and IFN-gamma mRNA expression, intracellular production, and in vitro release of IL-2 and IFN-gamma, as well as lymphocyte proliferation. These data demonstrate for the first time that immunosuppression can be behaviorally conditioned in humans
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1869-1873
JournalFASEB journal
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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