The composite group-drumming music therapy intervention resulted in increased DHEA-to-cortisol ratios in the experimental group compared to the control group. NK cell activity was elevated by group drumming, as was (IL-2 and IFN-y) LAK cell activity. Thus, group drumming elevated an important ratio of immunomodulatory adrenal steroids (DHEA-to-cortisol), NK cell activity, and LAK cell activity, immunologic markers of innate and cell-mediated immunity, compared with controls, in whom these neuroendocrine and immunologic measures were not altered.
Glucocorticoids, particularly cortisol in humans, are adrenal steroids that have wide-ranging anti-inflammatory effects and inhibitory effects on both innate and acquired immune responses, especially in pharmacologic doses.531 Not all immunologic effects of physiologic levels of glucocorticoids are inhibitory; glucocorticoids can shift the balances of helper T cell cytokine production away from TH1 (IL-2, IFN-y) toward TH2 (IL-4, IL-10),/32 enhancing humoral immunity and diminishing cell-mediated immunity.
In recent years, another native adrenal steroid, DHEA, and its sulfated
derivative (DHEA sulfate), as well as other related metabolites, have
been shown to circulate in the blood and exert potent immunologic effects,
sometimes described as antigluco-corticoid in nature./33,34
Dehydroepiandrosterone and its metabolites can upregulate secretion of
IFN-y and IL-2 (TH1 cytokines)/35,36 and, in experimental
murine models, can protect against herpes simplex virus 1 encephalitis./35
Furthermore, TH1 cytokine depletion has been noted in murine acquired
immunodeficiency syndrome,/36 influenza infection,/37
and West Nile virus./38 DHEA also can augment contact
sensitivity responses and exert immunostimulatory effects,/39
restore some aspects of immunosenescence,/37 and prevent
some cancers/40,41 Ben-Nathan and colleagues/38
have described DHEA as an antistress agent, based on its ability to protect
mice against viral infections in the presence of a cold stressor.
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