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Psychological variables as predictors of rubella antibody titers & fatigue - a prospective, double blind study. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome related research

  [ 48 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • September 10, 1999

When exposed to infectious pathogens, human beings manifest
variability in the incidence and severity of infection. This
variability may partly depend on psychological variables,
which have long been thought to contribute to the
predisposition, onset, and course of various physical
illnesses, including infectious diseases. The objective of the
study was to investigate the predictive value of several
personality and other psychological variables on antibody
titers and fatigue following a specific viral infection.

Subjects were divided into a seronegative group (not immune
prior to vaccination) (N = 60) and a seropositive group
(immune prior to vaccination) (N = 180), based on antibody
titers to rubella before and 10.5 weeks after vaccination with
live-attenuated rubella virus. Questionnaires assessing
externalizing, internalizing, self-esteem, neuroticism, and
fatigue-related symptoms were administered to the subjects
before vaccination. Fatigue-related symptoms were re-evaluated
10 weeks post vaccination. In the seronegative group, low
titers of rubella antibodies, 10.5 post-vaccination, were
predicted by high internalizing or neuroticism scores, and by
low self-esteem, measured at baseline. Higher externalizing
scores indirectly predicted lower titers of antibodies, via
fatigue-related symptoms, measured 10 weeks post vaccination.

In contrast, in the seropositive group no association was
found between any of the psychological variables and antibody
titers. Personality and other psychological variables can
predict antibody titers to rubella vaccination, in infected
individuals. The associations between the psychological
variables and antibody titers are complex, and involve both
direct and indirect associations. Specific psychological
variables can also be used to predict levels of
post-vaccination fatigue.

Morag M, Morag A, Reichenberg A, Lerer B, Yirmiya R

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