Variability in laboratory immune parameters is associated with stress hormone receptor polymorphisms

Kristina E. Rehm, Lianbin Xiang, Okan U. Elci, Michael Griswold, Gailen D. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objectives: Interpretation of laboratory immune data in healthy human subjects is often challenging due to wide inter-subject variability. Since endocrine and immune mediators have been mutually interlinked, a potential explanation for the significant variability seen in immune data even when controlled for technical variability and demographics is differences in the binding affinity of ligand with hormone receptors on the surface of immune cells, which can be associated with single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP). Methods: We categorized immunoregulatory cellular profiles from PBMC of 207 healthy volunteers according to glucocorticoid receptor (GR: Bcl1, TthIIII, and A3669G) and β 2-adrenergic receptor (β2AR: Gly16Arg and Gln27Glu) polymorphisms. Subjects were genotyped for each SNP, and Th1, Th2, Th1/Th2 ratio, regulatory T cell (T reg), Tr1, and Th3 cell numbers were assessed. Immune parameters in the SNP groups were compared to the wild type (WT). Results: Significant differences were observed in Th2 and the Th1/Th2 ratio for the β2AR SNP Gly16Arg. Th1, the Th1/Th2 ratio, and Tr1 differed significantly by SNP of Gln27Glu. In addition, the effect of age on Th2 and the effect of the body mass index on the Th1/Th2 ratio significantly differed across subtypes of the Gly16Arg SNP. Significant differences based on allergic status and gender were also seen for T reg, Th1, and Th2 across Gly16Arg, Gln27Glu, and TthIIII SNP. Conclusions: These data suggest that SNP from various components of the stress-immune network may be useful for subgrouping of immune responses to more accurately categorize psychoneuroimmunological components of stress risk in individual subjects. This approach may have significant research and clinical potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-228
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • β -Adrenergic receptor
  • Allergy
  • Cytokines
  • Glucocorticoid receptors
  • Polymorphisms
  • T lymphocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Neurology


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