The timing for applying stressor and primary immunization is known to influence the nature of the immune alterations induced by stress. The aim of the present study was to investigate the consequences of a stress occurring several days after the beginning of a primary infection on the host resistance. For this purpose, we investigated the effects of repeated social defeat on the immune response of mice infected with BCG 11 days before. In vitro production of cytokines in response to LPS or tuberculin, and the sensitivity of spleen cells to corticosterone were assessed 8 days after the end of the stress. Bacterial growth was assessed in the spleen. We demonstrated that social defeat in BCG-infected mice induced a long-term increase in IL-6 and IL-10 production in response to LPS but did not modify the sensitivity of spleen cells to corticosterone. Stress did not affect the specific response to BCG, as shown by the production of cytokines in tuberculin-stimulated cultures. Accordingly, social defeat was unable to influence the mycobacterial growth in vivo. These results support the hypothesis postulating that stress does not affect antigen-specific response when it is applied after priming.

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