Negative Social Interactions Linked to Inflammation

Negative and competitive interactions associated with elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines

TUESDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Everyday social interactions that are negative or competitive are associated with elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines, according to a study published online Jan. 23 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Jessica J. Chiang, from the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues asked 122 participants to keep a daily diary over eight days and record positive, negative, and competitive social interactions. Participants subsequently underwent laboratory stress challenges, and levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and soluble tumor necrosis factor-α receptor II (sTNFαRII) were measured in oral mucosal transudate before and 25- and 80-minutes post-stressor.

The researchers found that negative social interactions (conflict with family or friends) predicted elevated levels of sTNFαRII before and after stress, and total sTNFαRII output, as well as elevated levels of IL-6 25 minutes after stress. Competitive social interactions (competing for another person's attention, or academic- or work-related competition) predicted elevated baseline levels and total output of both cytokines.

"The present results suggest that everyday social interactions marked by negativity or competition are predictive of inflammatory activity. Although the impact of any single such interaction may be minor, cumulatively, they may have a sustained effect on inflammatory processes and therefore may have implications for mental and physical health outcomes related to inflammation," the authors write.

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