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PLoS One. 2015 Mar 26;10(3):e0121839. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121839. eCollection 2015.

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

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America.
2
Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America.
3
Department of Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.
4
Department of Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, United States of America; Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, United States of America; Norman Cousins Center, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, United States of America; UCLA AIDS Institute, Los Angeles, California, United States of America; UCLA Molecular Biology Institute, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.

Abstract

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.

PMID:
25811656
PMCID:
PMC4374902
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0121839
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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