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

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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