Decreased immune response in alexithymic women: A cross-sectional study

Olivier Guilbaud, Florence Curt, Claire Perrin, Gérard Chaouat, Sylvie Berthoz, Corinne Dugré-Le Bigre, Jenny Wallier, Martine Strebler, Catherine Touitou, Philippe Jeammet, Maurice Corcos
Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. 2009-05-01; 63(4): 297-304
DOI: 10.1016/j.biopha.2008.08.007

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1. Biomed Pharmacother. 2009 May;63(4):297-304. doi:
10.1016/j.biopha.2008.08.007. Epub 2008 Sep 27.

Decreased immune response in alexithymic women: a cross-sectional study.

Guilbaud O(1), Curt F, Perrin C, Chaouat G, Berthoz S, Dugré-Le Bigre C, Wallier
J, Strebler M, Touitou C, Jeammet P, Corcos M.

Author information:
(1)Département de Psychiatrie de l’adolescent et du jeune adulte, Institut
Mutualiste Montsouris, Paris, France.

It has been reported in a few studies that alexithymia is associated with
impaired immune response but results are still contradictory. The present study
investigates whether alexithymia is associated with lower cell-mediated (Th-1)
immune response. Fifty-one healthy 18-27-year-old women were selected from
healthy subjects on the basis of high or low cut-off scores on the 20-item
Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). They were evaluated using standardized
psychiatric rating scales notably the Hospital Anxiety Depressive Scale (HAD)
and the Mini Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI). None of the subjects were
suffering from psychiatric disorders. Twenty-seven were classified as
alexithymics and 24 as non-alexithymics according to the TAS-20. Blood was drawn
for lymphocyte subset counts (CD4, CD8), in vitro production of interleukin 1
(IL-1beta), IL-2, IL-4, and IL-10 by phytohaemagglutinin stimulated peripheral
lymphocytes, and cortisol. Women with alexithymia exhibited decreased
interleukin 1beta, IL-2 and IL-4 production with reduced ratios of Th1/Th2
(IL-2/IL-10) and of CD4/CD8, as well as reduced CD4 percentages. IL-2 and IL-4
production remained significantly diminished in the alexithymic group, even
after adjusting for between-group differences in anxiety and depression levels
on the HAD. This study further demonstrates that alexithymic women have altered
immune function, with a predominance of depressed cell-mediated immunity and a
skewed Th1/Th2 ratio towards Th2 response.

DOI: 10.1016/j.biopha.2008.08.007
PMID: 18824323 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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