The impact of social stress on acute Theiler's murine encephalitis virus infection.



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Texas A&M University


Stress is known to alter immune function, both in positive and negative ways. The disparate effects of stress on immune function remains an active area of investigation. This thesis investigates how the application of social disruption stress either prior to or concurrent with infection alters the neuropathogenesis of Theiler's murine encephalitis virus. Experiment 1 verified that social disruption prior to infection exacerbated the course of infection. Experiment 2 examined application of social disruption concurrent with infection, and found that this may produce a delay in symptom onset, and possibly a protective effect. Experiment 3 directly compared the two schedules to each other. The previous findings were replicated and expanded with additional measures (both behavioral and physiological) that further verified the earlier findings. Social disruption applied prior to infection resulted in greater behavioral and physiological exacerbation of the disease. Concurrently applied stress remained protective or inhibitory in the disease progression. Timing of stress is one of several quantitative aspects of stress that has been found to impact the stress-immune interaction and should be further investigated.