Article

Social-evaluative threat and proinflammatory cytokine regulation: An experimental laboratory investigation: Research article

Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine, 92697-7085, USA.
Psychological Science (Impact Factor: 4.43). 09/2009; 20(10):1237-44. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02437.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study experimentally tested whether a stressor characterized by social-evaluative threat (SET), a context in which the self can be judged negatively by others, would elicit increases in proinflammatory cytokine activity and alter the regulation of this response. This hypothesis was derived in part from research on immunological responses to social threat in nonhuman animals. Healthy female participants were assigned to perform a speech and a math task in the presence or absence of an evaluative audience (SET or non-SET, respectively). As hypothesized, stimulated production of the proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) increased from baseline to poststressor in the SET condition, but was unchanged in the non-SET condition. Further, the increases in TNF-alpha production correlated with participants' cognitive appraisals of being evaluated. Additionally, the ability of glucocorticoids to shut down the inflammatory response was decreased in the SET condition. These findings underscore the importance of social evaluation as a threat capable of eliciting proinflammatory cytokine activity and altering its regulation.

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Available from: Sally Dickerson, Aug 22, 2015
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    • "Prior research (e.g., Dickerson, Gable, Irwin, Aziz, & Kemeny, 2009; Murali, Hanson, & Chen, 2007) suggests shifts in inflammatory cytokine levels in response to situational stressors (e.g., taking an exam). While IL-6 in particular can exert both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory effects (Scheller, Chalaris, Schmidt-Arras, & Rose-John, 2011), prior research characterizes increases in IL-6 specifically in response to a stressor as signaling an inflammatory response (Dickerson et al., 2009; John-Henderson, Rheinschmidt, Mendoza-Denton, & Francis, 2014; Slavich, Way, Eisenberger, & Taylor, 2010). In this research, we assessed changes in IL-6 in oral mucosal transudate (OMT). "
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    ABSTRACT: This research independently manipulated two potential attenuators of stereotype threat – reappraisal of anxiety and test framing – to explore their independent and combined effects. Female participants took a difficult math exam that was described as gender-biased or gender-fair and were told that anxious arousal could positively impact performance or were given no information regarding arousal. Levels of the cytokine Interleukin-6 (IL-6), an immune marker of inflammation, were measured in oral mucosal transudate (OMT) both before and after the exam. Our findings indicate that directing reappraisal of physiological arousal attenuated increases in IL-6 across test framing conditions, and was especially effective under stereotype threat (i.e., gender-biased test condition). Reappraisal also mapped onto better test performance in the threat condition. Together, these findings provide insight into the unique and interactive effects of two situational interventions meant to reduce stereotype threat, indexed here by both physiological and performance-based correlates of threat.
    Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 01/2015; 56. DOI:10.1016/j.jesp.2014.10.002 · 2.22 Impact Factor
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    • "Prior research (e.g., Dickerson, Gable, Irwin, Aziz, & Kemeny, 2009; Murali, Hanson, & Chen, 2007) suggests shifts in inflammatory cytokine levels in response to situational stressors (e.g., taking an exam). While IL-6 in particular can exert both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory effects (Scheller, Chalaris, Schmidt-Arras, & Rose-John, 2011), prior research characterizes increases in IL-6 specifically in response to a stressor as signaling an inflammatory response (Dickerson et al., 2009; John-Henderson, Rheinschmidt, Mendoza-Denton, & Francis, 2014; Slavich, Way, Eisenberger, & Taylor, 2010). In this research, we assessed changes in IL-6 in oral mucosal transudate (OMT). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This research independently manipulated two potential attenuators of stereotype threat – reappraisal of anxiety and test framing – to explore their independent and combined effects. Female participants took a difficult math exam that was described as gender-biased or gender-fair and were told that anxious arousal could positively impact performance or were given no information regarding arousal. Levels of the cytokine Interleukin-6 (IL-6), an immune marker of inflammation, were measured in oral mucosal transudate (OMT) both before and after the exam. Our findings indicate that directing reappraisal of physiological arousal attenuated increases in IL-6 across test framing conditions, and was especially effective under stereotype threat (i.e., gender-biased test condition). Reappraisal also mapped onto better test performance in the threat condition. Together, these findings provide insight into the unique and interactive effects of two situational interventions meant to reduce stereotype threat, indexed here by both physiological and performance-based correlates of threat.
    Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 10/2014; · 2.22 Impact Factor
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    • "In terms of social-cognitive stressors, the well-validated and well-known TSST (Kirschbaum et al., 1993) is a good choice for a laboratory-based stressor. The social-evaluative threat component of the TSST, stemming from the perception that one is being evaluated critically on domains of social importance, seems to be critical in activating the HPA-axis, and consequently, evoking cortisol and inflammatory responses (Dickerson et al., 2009). Even with the TSST, however, small variations in protocol can change the degree to which it evokes a physiological response (Dickerson and Kemeny, 2004). "
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    ABSTRACT: There is burgeoning interest in the ability to detect inflammatory markers in response to stress within naturally occurring social contexts and/or across multiple time points per day within individuals. Salivary collection is a less invasive process than current methods of blood collection and enables intensive naturalistic methodologies, such as those involving extensive repeated measures per day over time. Yet the reliability and validity of saliva-based to blood-based inflammatory biomarkers in response to stress remains unclear. We review and synthesize the published studies that have examined salivary markers of inflammation following exposure to an acute laboratory stressor. Results from each study are reviewed by analyte (IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-6, IL-2, IL-4, IL-10, IL-12, CRP) and stress type (social-cognitive and exercise-physical), after which methodological issues and limitations are addressed. Although the literature is limited, several inflammatory markers (including IL-1β, TNF-α, and IL-6) have been reliably determined from saliva and have increased significantly in response to stress across multiple studies, with effect sizes ranging from very small to very large. Although CRP from saliva has been associated with CRP in circulating blood more consistently than other biomarkers have been associated with their counterparts in blood, evidence demonstrating it reliably responds to acute stress is absent. Although the current literature is presently too limited to allow broad assertion that inflammatory biomarkers determined from saliva are valuable for examining acute stress responses, this review suggests that specific targets may be valid and highlights specific areas of need for future research.
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