Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sharp Drop In Stress Hormones May Set Stage For Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis After Pregnancy

Date:
November 1, 2001
Source:
NIH/National Institute Of Child Health And Human Development
Summary:
A sharp drop in stress hormones after giving birth to a child may predispose some women to develop certain conditions in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health.

A sharp drop in stress hormones after giving birth to a child may predispose some women to develop certain conditions in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health.

Related Articles


The study was conducted by researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Kidney Diseases. The study appeared in the October issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

"This finding has important implications for understanding why immune disorders may subside during pregnancy, but flare up again after birth," Duane Alexander, M.D., director of the NICHD. "Understanding the immune processes involved may provide important new therapies for each of these conditions."

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disorder in which the immune system apparently causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints. In multiple sclerosis, the immune system attacks the brain and nervous system.

The immune hormones Interleukin 12 (IL-12) and tumor necrosis factor alpha TNF alpha hormones are involved in triggering the body's immune cells to ward off disease causing invaders, explained the study's senior investigator, George P. Chrousos, M.D., Chief of NICHD's Pediatric and Reproductive Endocrinology Branch. Both hormones also seem to be involved in the swelling and tissue destruction seen in rhematoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Similarly people with these conditions also have higher-than-normal amounts of the two immune hormones.

In pregnant women who have either multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis, symptoms may ease up or even disappear during the third trimester of pregnancy, Dr. Chrousos said. After the women give birth, however, their symptoms often return. Similarly, pregnant women who do not have either disorder may develop one of them within a year of giving birth.

The researchers recruited 18 women with normal, healthy pregnancies for their study. Next, the researchers charted the women's levels of IL-12 and TNF alpha in the third trimester of pregnancy as well as within the weeks following the birth of their child. The investigators found that, during the third trimester of pregnancy, the women's levels of IL-12 was about three times lower than it was after they had given birth. Similarly, the women's TNF alpha levels were 40 percent lower during the third trimester than it was after birth.

The researchers also found, however, that the women's levels of the stress hormones cortisol, norepinephrine (formerly adrenalin) and 1,25 hydroxyvitamin D3 were two to three times higher than they were after the women had given birth. All three hormones are produced to help the body respond to a stress. The most well known of these, norepinephrine, is involved in the "fight or flight" response, in which strength and reflexes are enhanced, to escape or deal with a possible threat. Other research has shown that all three of these stress hormones serve to hinder the production of immune system hormones.

The increase in these stress hormones is probably caused by the master stress hormone, corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH). This hormone is produced in the pituitary gland in response to stress, and ultimately signals the production of cortisol, norepinephrine, and 1,25 hydroxyvitamin D3. Similarly, CRH is also produced by the placenta.

"It appears as if suppression of IL-12 and TNF alpha results indirectly from the the CRH the placenta produces," Dr. Chrousos said. "After birth, the supply of CRH plummets and the levels of the two immune hormones rise sharply. This appears to result in a 'rebound' effect that could exacerbate disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis."

In one earlier study, Dr. Chrousos and his coworkers found that an abrupt drop in CRH after birth resulted in post partum depression in some women. In a more recent study, they showed that production of CRH by the placenta and the uterine lining played a role in preventing the mother's immune system from rejecting the early embryo.

The NICHD is part of the National Institutes of Health, the biomedical research arm of the Federal government. The Institute sponsors research on development before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. NICHD publications, as well as information about the Institute, are available from the NICHD website, http://www.nichd.nih.gov, or from the NICHD Clearinghouse, 1-800-370-2943; E-mail NICHDClearinghouse@mail.nih.gov.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute Of Child Health And Human Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute Of Child Health And Human Development. "Sharp Drop In Stress Hormones May Set Stage For Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis After Pregnancy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 November 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/11/011101061656.htm>.
NIH/National Institute Of Child Health And Human Development. (2001, November 1). Sharp Drop In Stress Hormones May Set Stage For Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis After Pregnancy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/11/011101061656.htm
NIH/National Institute Of Child Health And Human Development. "Sharp Drop In Stress Hormones May Set Stage For Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis After Pregnancy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/11/011101061656.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — The Solitair device aims to take the confusion out of how much sunlight we should expose our skin to. Small enough to be worn as a tie or hair clip, it monitors the user&apos;s sun exposure by taking into account their skin pigment, location and schedule. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2015) — Denisa Livingston, a health advocate for the Dinι Community Advocacy Alliance, and the Post&apos;s Abby Phillip discuss efforts around the country to make unhealthy food choices hurt your wallet as much as your waistline. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — The $12.8 billion merger will combine the U.S.&apos; third and fourth largest pharmacy benefit managers. Analysts say smaller PBMs could also merge. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) — Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins