Stress has a negative effect on an older person’s response to pneumonia vaccine. Ronald Glaser and his research team (Sheridan, Malarkey, MacCallum, Kiecolt-Glaser) at Ohio State University report that stress has a negative effect on an older person’s response to pneumonia vaccine [Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine 2000, Nov-Dec; 62 (6): pp 804-807].

It had been previously reported that older people who care for spouses with dementia have poorer antibody and T cell responses to flu vaccine, as compared to non-caregivers.

This study looked at the IgG antibody response to pneumonia vaccine, and found that dementia caregivers, as compared to non-caregivers and former caregivers, had significant deficits in their antibody responses to their vaccination when checked at 3 and 6 months post vaccination, even though they were comparable at 2 weeks and 1 month post.

This is the first evidence to show that chronic stress can inhibit the stability of the IgG antibody response to a bacterial vaccine for pneumonia, thus providing additional evidence of the health risks associated with dementia caregiving.

Both Ronald Glaser and Janice Kiecolt-Glaser are prolific contributors to the research literature on the factors that modulate immune response.

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