Hostile Marital Interactions, Proinflammatory Cytokine Production, and Wound Healing

Department of Psychiatry, Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, Ohio State University College of Medicine, 1670 Upham Drive, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.
Archives of General Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 14.48). 01/2006; 62(12):1377-84. DOI: 10.1001/archpsyc.62.12.1377
Source: PubMed


A growing epidemiological literature has suggested that marital discord is a risk factor for morbidity and mortality. In addition, depression and stress are associated with enhanced production of proinflammatory cytokines that influence a spectrum of conditions associated with aging.
To assess how hostile marital behaviors modulate wound healing, as well as local and systemic proinflammatory cytokine production.
Couples were admitted twice to a hospital research unit for 24 hours in a crossover trial. Wound healing was assessed daily following research unit discharge.
Volunteer sample of 42 healthy married couples, aged 22 to 77 years (mean [SD], 37.04 [13.05]), married a mean (SD) of 12.55 (11.01) years.
During the first research unit admission, couples had a structured social support interaction, and during the second admission, they discussed a marital disagreement.
Couples' interpersonal behavior, wound healing, and local and systemic changes in proinflammatory cytokine production were assessed during each research unit admission.
Couples' blister wounds healed more slowly and local cytokine production (IL-6, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and IL-1beta) was lower at wound sites following marital conflicts than after social support interactions. Couples who demonstrated consistently higher levels of hostile behaviors across both their interactions healed at 60% of the rate of low-hostile couples. High-hostile couples also produced relatively larger increases in plasma IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha values the morning after a conflict than after a social support interaction compared with low-hostile couples.
These data provide further mechanistic evidence of the sensitivity of wound healing to everyday stressors. Moreover, more frequent and amplified increases in proinflammatory cytokine levels could accelerate a range of age-related diseases. Thus, these data also provide a window on the pathways through which hostile or abrasive relationships affect physiological functioning and health.

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    Psychological Science 08/2015; 26(10). DOI:10.1177/0956797615594118 · 4.43 Impact Factor
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    • "Interestingly, we observed a higher IL-1b mRNA expression by PBMCs and IL-1b plasma levels (Pesce et al., 2013). Again, other studies on animals suggested that this cytokine could act directly at a cerebral level, as well as modulating by peripheral level the activities of various neurotransmitters involved in triggering aggressive behavior (Anisman et al., 2008; Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 2005; Zalcman and Siegel, 2006). "
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    Brain Behavior and Immunity 02/2015; 49. DOI:10.1016/j.bbi.2015.02.013 · 5.89 Impact Factor
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    • "Hostile marital behavior predicts couples' physiological changes more reliably than self-reports (Kiecolt-Glaser and Newton, 2001). To obtain behavioral data, the experimenter first conducted a 10—20 min interview to identify the best discussion topics (Kiecolt-Glaser and Newton, 2001; Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 2005), based on each spouse's Relationship Problem Inventory ratings (Knox, 1971). Couples were then asked to discuss and try to resolve one or more marital issues that the interviewer judged to be the most conflict-producing, for example, money, communication , or in-laws. "
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