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Placebo Effects2nd Edition: Understanding the mechanisms in health and disease$
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Fabrizio Benedetti

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198705086

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198705086.001.0001

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Immune and endocrine systems

Immune and endocrine systems

(p.220) Chapter 7 Immune and endocrine systems
Placebo Effects

Benedetti Fabrizio

Oxford University Press

The placebo effect in the immune and endocrine system is basically a conditioned response, whereby classical conditioning plays a key role. Conditioned immunosuppression affects a number of immune mediators, like interleukin-2 and interferon-gamma. Some negative allergic reactions may be induced by the administration of nocebos. The responses of some hormones, like insulin, growth hormone, and cortisol, have been successfully conditioned. In addition, the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis may represent an important system in placebo and nocebo responsiveness. Overall, the findings within the domain of the immune and endocrine system provide compelling evidence that conscious expectation is not always necessary for a placebo response to occur, and unconscious Pavlovian conditioning may represent the main mechanism.

Keywords:   immune responses, allergic reaction, hormones, classical conditioning, insulin, growth hormone, cortisol, hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis

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