Whereas endocrine factors that link the stress and immune systems are beginning to be elucidated, phenotypic responses of the whole immune system to stress are not well understood and are often unpredictable. Past studies in the animal sciences have mostly focused on measuring altered proportions of blood leukocytes as potential biological indicators of physiological stress and disease susceptibility. However, most of the indicators studied have been used with little biological justification. Rather, indicators such as the ratios of TH:TC lymphocytes or neutrophil:lympocyte in blood have been used because researchers have the technology to perform such measurements and can show impressive changes in them due to imposed stressors. Whereas these measurements may indicate that changes are occurring in the animals, they are incomplete and not diagnostic of the overall immunophys-iological response to stress. Part of the current lack of ability to prevent stress-related disease in farm animals is our lack of basic knowledge about what stress hormones do to leukocytes at the molecular level. Future prevention and treatment of stress-related infectious diseases will undoubtedly require that animal science researchers move beyond the study of isolated cellular phenomena to more holistic studies of genome-level changes that occur in specific leukocytes in response to glucocorticoids, cata-cholamines, and other stress mediators and explain the cells' dysfunctions.
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