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Negative and competitive social interactions are related to heightened proinflammatory cytokine activity

Chiang JJ, Eisenberger NI, Seeman TE, Taylor SE. Negative and competitive social interactions are related to heightened proinflammatory cytokine activity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Feb 7 2012;109(6):1878-1882

Research has consistently documented that social relationships influence physical health, a link that may implicate systemic inflammation. We examined whether daily social interactions predict levels of proinflammatory cytokines IL-6 and the soluble receptor for tumor necrosis factor-α (sTNFαRII) and their reactivity to a social stressor. One-hundred twenty-two healthy young adults completed daily diaries for 8 d that assessed positive, negative, and competitive socialinteractions. Participants then engaged in laboratory stress challenges, and IL-6 and sTNFαRII were collected at baseline and at 25- and 80-min poststressor, from oral mucosal transudate.Negative social interactions predicted elevated sTNFαRII at baseline, and IL-6 and sTNFαRII 25-min poststressor, as well as total output of sTNFαRII. Competitive social interactions predicted elevated baseline levels of IL-6 and sTNFαRII and total output of both cytokines. These findings suggest that daily social interactions that are negative and competitive are associated prospectively with heightened proinflammatory cytokine activity.