Subjective Well-Being and Biomarkers of Health : The Relationship between Subjective Well-Being, The immune system and Hypothalamic-Pituitary Adrenal Axis Activation
Sammanfattning: An association between inflammation and mood deterioration has been proposed as a potential explanatory mechanism underlying many pathologies. Previous research attributes this consistently reoccurring connection between inflammation and psychopathology that is often reported within the literature, to a relationship between the HPA axis, the body’s stress response system and the immune system. There is evidence of a bidirectional feedback loop between end-products of the immune system and the HPA-axis such as cytokines and cortisol. This is supported by research reporting that components of subjective well-being such as positive affect, optimism and life satisfaction can produce beneficial health outcomes by potentially targeting this feedback loop. The present longitudinal study tested if higher positive affect independently corresponds to lower levels of inflammatory markers Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP) and HPA axis marker cortisol. The study further tested if higher subjective well-being decreases levels of IL-6 and CRP as well as cortisol. The study employed a subsample of participants from the Midlife in Japan (MIDJA) Biomarker project (n=174) that underwent testing at two separate time points across a period of 4 years. The data included subjective well-being, positive affect, IL-6, CRP, cortisol, perceived stress, neuroticism and demographic variables. Positive affect was not associated with any inflammatory marker or cortisol. Subjective well-being had no effect on CRP but reduced IL-6 and cortisol even when controlling for all control and demographic variables. It is concluded that subjective well-being may be linked to lower inflammation and HPA axis activity.
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