Send to

Choose Destination
Brain Behav Immun. 2009 May;23(4):446-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2008.11.006. Epub 2008 Dec 11.

Pessimism correlates with leukocyte telomere shortness and elevated interleukin-6 in post-menopausal women.

Author information

Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco, 3333 California Street, Suite 465, Box 0848, San Francisco, CA 94143-0848, USA.

Erratum in

  • Brain Behav Immun. 2012 Aug;26(6):1017. Tillie, J M [corrected to Tillie, J]; Wolkowitz, O [corrected to Wolkowitz, O M]; Blackburn, E [corrected to Blackburn, E H]; Epel, E [corrected to Epel, E S].


The combination of less positive and more negative expectations for the future (i.e., lower optimism and higher pessimism) increases risk for disease and early mortality. We tested the possibility that expectancies might influence health outcomes by altering the rate of biological aging, specifically of the immune system (immunosenescence). However, no studies to date have examined associations between optimism or pessimism and indicators of immunosenescence such as leukocyte telomere length (TL) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels. We investigated whether dispositional tendencies towards optimism and pessimism were associated with TL and IL-6 in a sample of 36 healthy post-menopausal women. Multiple regression analyses where optimism and pessimism were entered simultaneously, and chronological age and caregiver status were controlled, indicated that pessimism was independently associated with shorter TL (beta=-.68, p=.001) and higher IL-6 concentrations (beta=.50, p=.02). In contrast, optimism was not independently associated with either measure of immunosenescence. These findings suggest that dispositional pessimism may increase IL-6 and accelerate rate of telomere shortening. Mechanistic causal relationships between these parameters need to be investigated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center