Falling In Love Is Associated With Immune System Gene Regulation

  • 3 mins read
  • Wellbeing
  • Relationships
  • Dr. Jatin Bhide

Falling in love can be such a wonderful experience. It practically makes you giddy, smile like you’re crazy, and feel like you’re on top of the world. You also begin to understand why so many songs are written about love. With all the amazing things you’re experiencing, your body is reaping the benefits of being in love. In recent times, the different ways our body reacts to being in love have been studied, including its effect on immunity. Let’s have a look at the love story between immunity and falling in love.

It’s all about those hormones

It has been found that the hormone oxytocin is higher in people with new romantic relationships than in those who aren’t. Guess that’s why they call it the love hormone. Couples who are together for over six months too have high levels of oxytocin. Studies have also shown that a protein called the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) is higher in people who have recently fallen in love compared to others.

But how do they affect our immune system, you’re wondering? Well, we’re getting there. This was just the prelude to this love story.

Oxytocin can kiss stress good-bye

Stress is bad. Stress hormones can mess up our daily activities and hamper our immunity. They focus on short-term survival at the expense of long-term health. This is where oxytocin comes in and saves the day. It can undo the damage caused by stress – reduce the levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and improve immune function.

NGF: The Never Giving up Factor

The NGF is a part of the nervous system. In times of stress, many parts of our body are negatively impacted. But this protein can jump to our help, regulate immune responses, and assist us during stress. It’s like, it says to our body, “Hey, we can get through this together!”

Put on those love genes

Love can alter your genes (not jeans)! A study has confirmed that women who fell in love had improved function of the genes in charge of some of the immune cells and proteins. These genes either increase or decrease their impact and control our immune response. Fun fact ladies, falling in love can help you fight viral infections better!

Love can change our lives for the better, quite literally, with the effects it has on our health and immunity. With that, we conclude this love story. Now, write yours!

References:

  1. Murray DR, et al. Falling in love is associated with immune system gene regulation. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2019;100:120-126.
  2. Alleva E, et al. NGF regulatory role in stress and coping of rodents and humans. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1996;54(1):65-72.
  3. Uvnas-Moberg K, et al. Oxytocin, ein Vermittler von Antistress, Wohlbefinden, sozialer Interaktion, Wachstum und Heilung [Oxytocin, a mediator of anti-stress, well-being, social interaction, growth and healing]. Z Psychosom Med Psychother. 2005;51(1):57-80.
  4. Cavanaugh J, et al. Oxytocin facilitates fidelity in well-established marmoset pairs by reducing sociosexual behavior toward opposite-sex strangers. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2014;49:1-10.

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