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Social status alters immune regulation and response to infection in macaques

updated

Tags: inflam-sys, anxiety, chronic pain, mind, pain problems

Two articles on PainSci cite Snyder-Mackler 2016: (1) Anxiety & Chronic Pain(2) Chronic, Subtle, Systemic Inflammation

PainSci notes on Snyder-Mackler 2016:

This study showed that nervous-wreck macaques show clear cellular and genetic signs of inflammation, a direct relationship between altered immune function and chronic severe stress caused by a low social status (subordinate macaques have really tough lives). Dr. Robert Sapolsky:

At the end of the day, being a chronically subordinate nonhuman primate and being a human mired at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale are similar in the most fundamental ways. You have remarkably little control and predictability in your life, your outlets for frustration are limited, and it’s relatively hard to access social support. That’s the prescription for chronic, stress-related maladies.

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Social status is one of the strongest predictors of human disease risk and mortality, and it also influences Darwinian fitness in social mammals more generally. To understand the biological basis of these effects, we combined genomics with a social status manipulation in female rhesus macaques to investigate how status alters immune function. We demonstrate causal but largely plastic social status effects on immune cell proportions, cell type-specific gene expression levels, and the gene expression response to immune challenge. Further, we identify specific transcription factor signaling pathways that explain these differences, including low-status-associated polarization of the Toll-like receptor 4 signaling pathway toward a proinflammatory response. Our findings provide insight into the direct biological effects of social inequality on immune function, thus improving our understanding of social gradients in health.

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