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Journal Article

The impact of acute stress on hormones and cytokines, and how their recovery is affected by music-evoked positive mood


Koelsch,  Stefan
MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Department of Biological and Medical Psychology, University of Bergen, Norway;

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Koelsch, S., Boehlig, A., Hohenadel, M., Nitsche, I., Bauer, K., & Sack, U. (2016). The impact of acute stress on hormones and cytokines, and how their recovery is affected by music-evoked positive mood. Scientific Reports, 6: 23008. doi:10.1038/srep23008.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-1F28-0
Stress and recovery from stress significantly affect interactions between the central nervous system, endocrine pathways, and the immune system. However, the influence of acute stress on circulating immune-endocrine mediators in humans is not well known. Using a double-blind, randomized study design, we administered a CO2 stress test to n = 143 participants to identify the effects of acute stress, and recovery from stress, on serum levels of several mediators with immune function (IL-6, TNF-α, leptin, and somatostatin), as well as on noradrenaline, and two hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis hormones (ACTH and cortisol). Moreover, during a 1 h-recovery period, we repeatedly measured these serum parameters, and administered an auditory mood-induction protocol with positive music and a neutral control stimulus. The acute stress elicited increases in noradrenaline, ACTH, cortisol, IL-6, and leptin levels. Noradrenaline and ACTH exhibited the fastest and strongest stress responses, followed by cortisol, IL-6 and leptin. The music intervention was associated with more positive mood, and stronger cortisol responses to the acute stressor in the music group. Our data show that acute (CO2) stress affects endocrine, immune and metabolic functions in humans, and they show that mood plays a causal role in the modulation of responses to acute stress.