The short-term stress response – Mother nature's mechanism for enhancing protection and performance under conditions of threat, challenge, and opportunity

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

Our group has proposed that in contrast to chronic stress that can have harmful effects, the short-term (fight-or-flight) stress response (lasting for minutes to hours) is nature's fundamental survival mechanism that enhances protection and performance under conditions involving threat/challenge/opportunity. Short-term stress enhances innate/primary, adaptive/secondary, vaccine-induced, and anti-tumor immune responses, and post-surgical recovery. Mechanisms and mediators include stress hormones, dendritic cell, neutrophil, macrophage, and lymphocyte trafficking/function and local/systemic chemokine and cytokine production. Short-term stress may also enhance mental/cognitive and physical performance through effects on brain, musculo-skeletal, and cardiovascular function, reappraisal of threat/anxiety, and training-induced stress-optimization. Therefore, short-term stress psychology/physiology could be harnessed to enhance immuno-protection, as well as mental and physical performance. This review aims to provide a conceptual framework and targets for further investigation of mechanisms and conditions under which the protective/adaptive aspects of short-term stress/exercise can be optimized/harnessed, and for developing pharmacological/biobehavioral interventions to enhance health/healing, and mental/cognitive/physical performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-192
Number of pages18
JournalFrontiers in Neuroendocrinology
Volume49
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018

Keywords

  • Amateur/elite athletes
  • Armed forces/special operations forces
  • Eustress/distress
  • Infection/autoimmune disease/cancer
  • Performers/entertainers
  • Psycho-neuro-endocrine-immunology
  • Sleep
  • Stress optimization
  • Stress reduction
  • Wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems

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