A recent study by Tesfaye Belay and Anthony Woart from the School of Arts and Sciences, Bluefield State College, Bluefield, WV, is perhaps the first to document a link between cold (weather) stress and the course of Chlamydia trachomatis infection.
This common sexually transmitted infection is known to cause severe complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.
In experimental animals and conditions, the authors demonstrate that increased levels of catecholamines, the neurohormonal mediators released during cold-induced stress, are associated with greater susceptibility and intensity of Chlamydia genital infection. In addition, IFN-gamma and MIP-1 alpha, driving Th1 responses and known to be crucial for clearance were down regulated in stressed mice, while a key immunosuppressive cytokine, IL-10 was up regulated.
The study indicates that these stress hormones may suppress the immune system and thus contribute to vulnerability or severity of this infection, and/or the development of complications.