Loneliness in healthy young adults predicts inflammatory responsiveness to a mild immune challenge in vivo

Leonie J. T. Balter, Jane E. Raymond, Sarah Aldred, Mark T. Drayson, Jet J. C. S. Veldhuijzen van Zanten, Suzanne Higgs, Jos A. Bosch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
172 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The established link between loneliness and poor health outcomes may stem from aberrant inflammatory regulation. The present study tested whether loneliness predicted the inflammatory response to a standardised in vivo immune challenge. Using a within-subjects double blind placebo-controlled design, 40 healthy men (mean age = 25, SD = 5) received a Salmonella Typhi vaccination (0.025 mg; Typhim Vi, Sanofi Pasteur, UK) and placebo (saline) on two separate occasions. Loneliness was assessed using the R-UCLA loneliness scale. Regression analyses showed that those that reported feeling more lonely exhibited an elevated interleukin-6 response (β = 0.564, 95% confidence interval [0.003, 0.042], p < .05). This association withstood adjustment for potentially confounding variables, including age, sleep quality, socio-emotional factors, and health factors. The present findings are in line with evidence that loneliness may shift immune system responsivity, suggesting a potential biobehavioural pathway linking loneliness to impaired health.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Inc.

Keywords

  • loneliness
  • mild inflammation
  • immune dysregulation
  • typhoid vaccination

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