Research: MARUCHA and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 39


MARUCHA and colleagues, Periodontology, College of Dentistry, The Ohio State University, Columbus USA. write that wound healing impairment is a well-recognised constellation of conditions altering immune function, which include diabetes, jaundice and advanced age . There is also increasing evidence that psychological stress adversely affects immune function . The authors conducted a study to address the effects of a commonplace stressor upon wound healing .



2 punch biopsy wounds were placed on the hard palate of 11 dental students. The first wound was performed during the summer vacation, whereas the second was place on the other side 3 days prior to the first major term examination. Hence, each student served as their own control. The healing was assessed using daily photographs and a foaming response to hydrogen peroxide.


During the examinations, the students took an average of 3 days longer to completely health the 3.5mm wound, i.e. 40% longer to heal the small, standardised wound. Interleukin 1beta (IL-1beta) messenger RNA (mRNA) production declined by 68% during the examination period, which provided evidence of a possible immunological mechanism. The differences were reliable in that not one student healed as rapidly or produced as much IL-1beta mRNA during examinations as during vacation .


The results of this study suggest that examination stress can exert significant influence upon wound healing .


Marucha PT, Kiecolt-GlaserJK and Favagehi M Mucosal wound healing is impaired by examination stress. Psychosom Med 60(3): 362-5 May-June 1998.

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