Although the role of immune marker secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA) in stress-related health outcomes is gaining recognition, SIgA responsiveness to acute stress has rarely been assessed in adults, and not at all in children. This study was designed to clarify developmental origins of differential immune function-related health risks by investigating youth SIgA responses to psychosocial stressors, including both normative responses and variability related to behavioral problems. Children and adolescents from a larger study (n=82) gave 6 saliva samples during a laboratory session in which they were exposed to a series of performance or interpersonal stressors. Samples were assayed for SIgA, as well as cortisol (representing hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity) and alpha-amylase (sAA; representing autonomic nervous system activity). Behavioral problems were assessed with parent-report measures of youth internalizing and externalizing. Youth SIgA trajectories followed a normative pattern of reactivity and recovery around the stressors; however, these responses were blunted in youth with higher externalizing scores. SIgA showed differential associations with cortisol and sAA, and with positive and negative affect; whereas overall levels of SIgA related to cortisol output and positive affect, changes in SIgA over time synchronized with changes in sAA and negative affect. In contrast to SIgA, neither cortisol nor sAA related significantly to behavioral problems. Implications for the role of SIgA during psychosocial stress in the development of immune function-related health risks are discussed.
Laurent, H.K., et al. (2015). Secretory IgA reactivity to social threat in youth: Relations with HPA, ANS, and behavior. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 9:81-90.