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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2016 Oct;72:175-81. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.07.004. Epub 2016 Jul 12.

Work, meaning, and gene regulation: Findings from a Japanese information technology firm.

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University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA. Electronic address:
Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo 101-8439, Japan.
Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan.
University of California, Los Angels CA 90095-1678, USA.


The meaning in life, typically reflected in a sense of purpose, growth, or social embeddedness (called eudaimonic well-being, EWB), has been linked to favorable health outcomes. In particular, this experience is inversely associated with the conserved transcriptional response to adversity (CTRA), which involves up-regulation of genes linked to inflammation and down-regulation of genes linked to viral resistance. So far, however, little is known about how this transcriptome profile might be situated in specific socio-cultural contexts. Here, we tested 106 male workers at a large Japanese IT firm and found that the CTRA is inversely associated not only with general EWB but also with a more contextualized sense of meaning derived from the perceived significance of one's work and a sense of interdependence with others in the workplace. These results expand previous links between personal well-being and CTRA gene expression to include the socio-cultural determinants of meaning in life.


Gene regulation; Wellbeing; Work meaning; and interdependence with others

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