When grief makes you sick: Bereavement induced systemic inflammation is a question of genotype

Christian R. Schultze-Florey, Otoniel Martínez-Maza, Larry Magpantay, Elizabeth Crabb Breen, Michael R. Irwin, Harald Gündel, Mary-Frances O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although bereavement is associated with increased morbidity and mortality in the surviving spouse, some widow(er)s remain healthy. Genetic variability in expression of inflammatory markers in response to stress may be the key to this observation. The present study compares bereaved vs. married/partnered older adults, investigating the impact of bereavement status, pro-inflammatory cytokine single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on circulating markers of inflammation and hypothesizing a gene by environment (GxE) effect. The study sample included 64 older adults, of which 36 were widow(er)s. Circulating levels of inflammatory markers IL-6, IL-1RA and sTNFRII were measured. Participants were genotyped for SNPs in the IL-6 gene (IL-6 -174 and -572), the IL-1β gene (IL-1β -511), and TNF-α gene (TNF-α -308). Grief severity was assessed with the Inventory of Complicated Grief. Bereaved participants had higher circulating levels of IL-1RA and IL-6. This increase could not be explained by pro-inflammatory genotype frequency differences, or Complicated Grief diagnosis. However, a GxE effect with the IL-6 -174 SNP moderated individual vulnerability to higher circulating levels of inflammation resulting from bereavement exposure. These results suggest a possible mechanism for the increase in morbidity and mortality in the surviving spouse. Genetic variability interacts with an environmental stressor, leading to increased inflammatory markers in genetically susceptible subjects only. For these patients, clinical interventions for bereavement-related stressor reduction might be crucial for overall health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1066-1071
Number of pages6
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Volume26
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2012

Fingerprint

Bereavement
Grief
Interleukin-6
Genotype
Inflammation
Single Nucleotide Polymorphism
Widowhood
Spouses
Interleukin-1
Genes
Morbidity
Mortality
Cytokines
Equipment and Supplies
Health

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Bereavement
  • Cytokines
  • Gene
  • Gene by environment
  • Grief
  • IL-1
  • IL-6, TNF-a
  • Inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems

Cite this

Schultze-Florey, C. R., Martínez-Maza, O., Magpantay, L., Breen, E. C., Irwin, M. R., Gündel, H., & O'Connor, M-F. (2012). When grief makes you sick: Bereavement induced systemic inflammation is a question of genotype. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 26(7), 1066-1071. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2012.06.009

When grief makes you sick : Bereavement induced systemic inflammation is a question of genotype. / Schultze-Florey, Christian R.; Martínez-Maza, Otoniel; Magpantay, Larry; Breen, Elizabeth Crabb; Irwin, Michael R.; Gündel, Harald; O'Connor, Mary-Frances.

In: Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, Vol. 26, No. 7, 10.2012, p. 1066-1071.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Schultze-Florey, CR, Martínez-Maza, O, Magpantay, L, Breen, EC, Irwin, MR, Gündel, H & O'Connor, M-F 2012, 'When grief makes you sick: Bereavement induced systemic inflammation is a question of genotype', Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, vol. 26, no. 7, pp. 1066-1071. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2012.06.009
Schultze-Florey CR, Martínez-Maza O, Magpantay L, Breen EC, Irwin MR, Gündel H et al. When grief makes you sick: Bereavement induced systemic inflammation is a question of genotype. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2012 Oct;26(7):1066-1071. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2012.06.009
Schultze-Florey, Christian R. ; Martínez-Maza, Otoniel ; Magpantay, Larry ; Breen, Elizabeth Crabb ; Irwin, Michael R. ; Gündel, Harald ; O'Connor, Mary-Frances. / When grief makes you sick : Bereavement induced systemic inflammation is a question of genotype. In: Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2012 ; Vol. 26, No. 7. pp. 1066-1071.
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