J Psychosom Res 2002 Dec;53(6):1153-1161
Vedhara K, McDermott MP, Evans TG, Treanor JJ, Plummer S, Tallon D, Cruttenden KA, Schifitto G.
MRC Health Services Research Collaboration, Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, Whiteladies Road, BS8 2PR, Bristol, UK
This investigation examined whether the immune dysregulation that characterises elderly informal caregivers (e.g., spousal caregivers of dementia patients) extends to a younger caregiver population, specifically spousal carers of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).
MS spousal caregivers (n=41, mean age 43 years, 14 women, 27 men) and noncaregiving controls (n=62, mean age 33 years, 44 women, 18 men) were recruited. Psychological morbidity (i.e., self-reported stress, anxiety and depression), endocrine activity (i.e., salivary cortisol and DHEAs) and immunity (i.e., IgG and HAI responses to influenza vaccination and IFN-gamma and IL-4 levels) were assessed.
RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS:
MS caregivers and noncaregivers did not differ significantly in their IgG or HAI responses to influenza vaccination or in levels of IFN-gamma and IL-4. However, it remains unclear whether the "preserved" immune response of these younger caregivers was due to (1) an absence of immune senescence, (2) a relative absence of psychological morbidity, or both.