Psychological well-being and the human conserved transcriptional response to adversity.

TitlePsychological well-being and the human conserved transcriptional response to adversity.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsFredrickson BL, Grewen KM, Algoe SB, Firestine AM, Arevalo JMG, Ma J, Cole SW
JournalPLoS One
Date Published2015
KeywordsFemale, Gene Expression Regulation, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Reproducibility of Results, Stress, Psychological, Transcription, Genetic

Research in human social genomics has identified a conserved transcriptional response to adversity (CTRA) characterized by up-regulated expression of pro-inflammatory genes and down-regulated expression of Type I interferon- and antibody-related genes. This report seeks to identify the specific aspects of positive psychological well-being that oppose such effects and predict reduced CTRA gene expression. In a new confirmation study of 122 healthy adults that replicated the approach of a previously reported discovery study, mixed effect linear model analyses identified a significant inverse association between expression of CTRA indicator genes and a summary measure of eudaimonic well-being from the Mental Health Continuum - Short Form. Analyses of a 2- representation of eudaimonia converged in finding correlated psychological and social subdomains of eudaimonic well-being to be the primary carriers of CTRA associations. Hedonic well-being showed no consistent CTRA association independent of eudaimonic well-being, and summary measures integrating hedonic and eudaimonic well-being showed less stable CTRA associations than did focal measures of eudaimonia (psychological and social well-being). Similar results emerged from analyses of pooled discovery and confirmation samples (n = 198). Similar results also emerged from analyses of a second new generalization study of 107 healthy adults that included the more detailed Ryff Scales of Psychological Well-being and found this more robust measure of eudaimonic well-being to also associate with reduced CTRA gene expression. Five of the 6 major sub-domains of psychological well-being predicted reduced CTRA gene expression when analyzed separately, and 3 remained distinctively prognostic in mutually adjusted analyses. All associations were independent of demographic characteristics, health-related confounders, and RNA indicators of leukocyte subset distribution. These results identify specific sub-dimensions of eudaimonic well-being as promising targets for future interventions to mitigate CTRA gene expression, and provide no support for any independent favorable contribution from hedonic well-being.

Alternate JournalPLoS ONE
PubMed ID25811656
PubMed Central IDPMC4374902
Grant ListP30AG107265 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R01CA116778 / CA / NCI NIH HHS / United States
R01NR012899 / NR / NINR NIH HHS / United States