Mucosal surfaces are covered by the secretory proteins of the exocrine glands, which provide a first line of innate defense from infections. The release of these secretory proteins is, in theory, sensitive to modulation by psychosocial stress. This was tested by measuring salivary secretion in response to stressors known to evoke distinct patterns of cardiac autonomic activity. 32 subjects (Ss; mean age 23 yrs) were subjected to two laboratory stressors: an active coping memory test and a passive coping video presentation showing surgical procedures. The memory test produced a strong increase in sympathetic activity, and a decrease in cardiac parasympathetic activity. This active coping response was associated with an enhanced secretion of MUC7, lactoferrin, alpha-amylase, and total salivary protein. Conversely, the surgical video produced an increase in cardiac vagal tone and a modest increase in sympathetic activity. This passive coping response was associated with an enhanced secretion of all proteins studied. These secretory responses were generally larger than the secretory responses during the active coping memory test. For both stressors autonomic and cardiovascular reactivity was positively associated with an enhanced and prolonged secretory activity.
|Publication status||Published - 2003|