Format

Send to

Choose Destination
J Adolesc Health. 2015 May;56(5):496-501. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.01.017.

Discrimination, racial identity, and cytokine levels among African-American adolescents.

Author information

1
Center for Family Research, Institute for Behavioral Research, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. Electronic address: gbrody@uga.edu.
2
Center for Family Research, Institute for Behavioral Research, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia.
3
Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.
4
Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois; Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Low-grade inflammation, measured by circulating levels of cytokines, is a pathogenic mechanism for several chronic diseases of aging. Identifying factors related to inflammation among African-American youths may yield insights into mechanisms underlying racial disparities in health. The purpose of the study was to determine whether (1) reported racial discrimination from ages 17-19 years forecasts heightened cytokine levels at the age of 22 years and (2) this association is lower for youths with positive racial identities.

METHODS:

A longitudinal research design was used with a community sample of 160 African-Americans who were aged 17 years at the beginning of the study. Discrimination and racial identity were measured with questionnaires, and blood was drawn to measure basal cytokine levels. Ordinary least squares regression analyses were used to examine the hypotheses.

RESULTS:

After controlling for socioeconomic risk, life stress, depressive symptoms, and body mass index, racial discrimination (β = .307; p < .01), racial identity (β = -.179; p < .05), and their interaction (β = -.180; p < .05) forecast cytokine levels. Youths exposed to high levels of racial discrimination evinced elevated cytokine levels 3 years later. This association was not significant for young adults with positive racial identities.

CONCLUSIONS:

High levels of interpersonal racial discrimination and the development of a positive racial identity operate jointly to determine low-grade inflammation levels that have been found to forecast chronic diseases of aging, such as coronary disease and stroke.

KEYWORDS:

African-Americans; Cytokines; Health status disparities; Inflammation; Minority health; Racism; Self-concept

PMID:
25907649
PMCID:
PMC4409660
DOI:
10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.01.017
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

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