According to Medical School Associate Professor of Dermatology Richard D. Granstein and colleagues at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the possibility exists that events as microscopic as the body's response to foreign substances are influenced by mental well-being.
An article describing the team's research, which appeared in yesterday's issue of Nature, presents data which shows that a chemical, known as CGRP, present in nerves and in increased levels during stress or anxiety in the skin's upper layer regulates the activity of neighboring immune cells.
"It's a way by which the nervous system may talk to the immune system," Granstein said. "For understanding the immune system, it's very important."
Scientists at the School of Public Health had previously found that CGRP inhibited the immune response of macrophages, the body's scavengers which destroy foreign substances. CGRP has also been suggested as a possible therapeutic agent to regulate immune responses in the skin.