Psychological stress, an important contributor to asthma morbidity, potentiates the immune response to allergen, but the brain mechanisms mediating this response are not fully understood. The amygdala is likely to play an important role, given its sensitivity to threat and connectivity with descending immune modulatory pathways. In this study, we recruited thirty asthmatic participants and examined glucose metabolism in the amygdala, using [F-18]fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography, during a laboratory stressor. Stress hormone and airway inflammatory measurements were also acquired. Results showed that activity in the amygdala was significantly increased during the stressor, compared to a matched control task (p <.05 corrected). Moreover, the increase in amygdala activity was associated with a greater increase in sputum IL-1R1 mRNA and alpha amylase response (p <.05 corrected), which were also positively correlated (p =.01). These findings suggest that heightened amygdala reactivity may contribute to asthma morbidity via descending proinflammatory sympathetic signaling pathways.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.