German Journal of Psychiatry ISSN 1455-1033
2000, Vol. 3, Supplement 1, S2
S. Rohrmann1, J. Hennig2, P.
Wolfgang Goethe Universität, Frankfurt; 2Justus-Liebig-Universität,
Secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) in saliva has been
suggested to play an important role in protecting the mucosa of the upper
respiratory tract and the oral cavity against viral infections and bacterial
adherence (Tomasi, 1970). Low concentrations of sIgA are associated e.g. with
caries (Lehner et al., 1967), as well as with repeated infections of the upper
respiratory tract (McClelland et al., 1982; Calvo et al., 1988; Tenovuo et al.,
1986; Norrby, 1993). Subjects with high scores in neuroticism and anxiety are
characterized by lower sIgA baseline levels than low scorers and by a more
pronounced reduction of sIgA in certain stress conditions (Graham et al., 1988;
Hennig, 1994; Hennig et al., 1996). Furthermore, a meta-analysis performed by
van Rood and coworkers (1993) revealed that relaxation consistently leads to
highly significant increases in sIgA concentrations.
Considering these findings together, the questions
emerge, if subjects high in anxiety report higher frequencies of diseases
related to low sIgA baseline levels than low anxious subjects, if these groups
differ with respect to changes in sIgA after relaxation training and in
subjective effects of this relaxation exercise.
Two studies were conducted to answer these questions: In
the first study 232 subjects (118 females, 114 males) filled in a health
questionnaire. As shown by correlations subjects high in anxiety reported
significantly more sIgA-relevant diseases like e.g. gingivitis than subjects low
in anxiety. No correlations were found concerning non-sIgA-relevant diseases
like e.g. infections of the urinary tract.
In a second study 28 females and 28 males took part in an
experimental relaxation training. Before and after ten minutes of relaxation
training, saliva was sampled by salivettes for the determination of sIgA.
Furthermore, subjects were asked to rate the effects of the relaxation training
and filled in the trait anxiety scale of the State-Trait-Anxiety-Inventory
(STAI, Laux et al., 1981). As shown by correlations, high anxious subjects
showed significantly higher increases in sIgA after relaxation but at the same
time felt less relaxed than low anxious subjects.
These studies indicate, that repeated relaxation training
can possibly lead to increased sIgA levels as reported by Green et al. (1988) in
particularly in subjects high in anxiety, and that this may perhaps be effective
against diseases associated with low sIgA levels.
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