Environment enrichment hidden benefits: improved immune system

Scientists recently discovered a new enzyme in our bodies called: COX-2. COX-2 is one of the keys to the immune system and plays a crucial anti-inflammatory role. (See references below.)

As they studied the function and role of COX-2, researchers made a remarkable discovery: enriching the environment enhances immune system functioning and decreases brain inflammation.

Children with autism often have moderate to severe brain inflammations and a weak immune system. These problems usually lead to regular infections, often in the ears and the throat.

In March 2012, a team from Duke University found that Sensory Enrichment exercises improve the immune system. Sensory Enrichment activities involve the senses of touch, smell, sight, and hearing.

This new discovery of the benefits of environmental enrichment activities using the senses is crucial for children with autism who can become more resistant to infections, while the brain mends and grows.


  • Arranz L, De Castro NM, Baeza I, Maté I, Viveros MP, De la Fuente M. “Environmental Enrichment Improves Age-Related Immune System Impairment: Long-Term Exposure Since Adulthood Increases Life Span in Mice.” Rejuvenation Research 13, no. 4 (2010): 415-28.
  • Arranz L, De Castro NM, Baeza I, Giménez-Llort L, De la Fuente M. “Effect of Environmental Enrichment on the Immunoendocrine Aging of Male and Female Triple-Transgenic 3xtg-Ad Mice for Alzheimer’s Disease.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 25, no. 4 (2011): 727-37.
  • Williamson LL, Chao A, Bilbo SD. “Environmental Enrichment Alters Glial Antigen Expression and Neuroimmune Function in the Adult Rat Hippocampus.” Brain, Behavior, Immunity 26, no. 3 (2012): 500-10.
  • Patterson, Paul H. “Immune Involvement in Schizophrenia and Autism: Etiology, Pathology and Animal Models.” Behavioural Brain Research 204, no. 2 (2009): 313-21.
  • Seibert K, Masferrer JL. “Role of Inducible Cyclooxygenase (Cox-2) in Inflammation.” Receptor 4, no. 1 (1994): 17-23.
  • Müller N, Schwarz MJ. “Cox-2 Inhibition in Schizophrenia and Major Depression.” Current Pharmaceutical Design 14, no. 14 (2008): 1452-65.
  • El-Ansary A, Al-Ayadhi L. “Neuroinflammation in Autism Spectrum Disorders.” Journal of Neuroinflammation 9, no. 1 (2012): 265.

2 thoughts on “Environment enrichment hidden benefits: improved immune system”

  1. Hello,

    I’m Rachida Nachat-Kappes, I was in charge of the work about “enriched environment” and COX2, that you mentionned.
    There is a mistake in your comments. In fact, COX2 in decreased in breast tumor, when environment is enriched. You said the opposite.

    Moreover, COX2 is an enzyme, and not an hormone. It’s one of the enzyme involved in inflammation. Please, feel free to contact me, if you need more information.

    Dr Rachida Nachat-Kappes

    • Yes, Dr. Nachat-Kappes, we made a few mistakes with this article. We referenced you incorrectly. We have made the necessary corrections to our article. Thanks for pointing out the errors.


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