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Psychosom Med. 2016 Jul-Aug;78(6):657-66. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000320.

Income and Markers of Immunological Cellular Aging.

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From the Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health, and Carolina Population Center (Aiello, Feinstein), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; CUNY School of Public Health, Hunter College (Dowd), City University of New York, New York, New York; Department of Internal Medicine II (Pawelec, Derhovanessian), Centre for Medical Research, University of Tubingen, Tubingen, Germany; Boston University School of Public Health (Galea), Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts; Department of Psychology and Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (Uddin), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois; Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology (Wildman) and Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health (Simanek), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.



Socioeconomic disadvantage may contribute to poor health through immune-related biological mechanisms. We examined the associations between socioeconomic status, as measured by annual household income, and T-cell markers of aging, including the ratios of CD4 and CD8 effector cells to naïve cells (E/N ratio) and the CD4/CD8 T-cell ratio. We hypothesized that participants with a lower income would have higher E/N ratios and lower CD4/CD8 ratios compared with participants with a higher income, and that these associations would be partially mediated by elevated cytomegalovirus (CMV) IgG antibody levels, a virus implicated in aging and clonal expansion of T cells.


Data were from 79 individuals who participated in the population-based Detroit Neighborhood Health Study. We used linear regression to quantify the association between a $10,000 decrease in income and each ratio outcome.


After adjustment for age, sex, race, smoking, medication use, and lifetime history of mental health conditions, lower income was associated with a 0.41 (95% confidence interval = 0.09-0.72) log-unit increase in the CD4 E/N ratio and a 0.20 (95% confidence interval = 0.02-0.39) log-unit increase in the CD8 E/N ratio. CMV immunoglobulin G antibody level partially mediated these associations.


Our study suggests that low socioeconomic status is associated with immunological aging as measured by the E/N ratio and that impaired immune control of CMV may partially mediate these associations.

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