Inflammation and emotion regulation: Findings from the MIDUS II study

Luz H. Ospina, Katie Beck-Felts, Chloe Ifrah, Amanda Lister, Sylvie Messer, Scott J. Russo, James J. Gross, David Kimhy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Emotion regulation (ER) strategies are thought to contribute to mental as well as physical health outcomes. Two common ER strategies include expressive suppression, or inhibition of emotional expression, and cognitive reappraisal, which involves changing how to think about an emotion-eliciting event in order to change its emotional impact. Recent reports have hypothesized that one potential way in which ER may be linked to health outcomes is via the immune system. However, information on this putative link is scarce. The present study aims to explore whether peripheral inflammatory biomarkers are associated with individual differences in ER-strategy use. Participants (n = 117) from the Midlife in the United States II (MIDUS II) study completed the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ), and provided a blood sample for immune biomarker extraction including interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), C-reactive protein (CRP), E-selectin, Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 (ICAM-1), and fibrinogen. Results showed higher levels of expressive suppression were associated with decreased IL-10, TNF-α, and ICAM-1 levels (controlling for age, sex, BMI, total prescribed medications, and depressive symptoms). Consistent with these findings, hierarchical regression results identified TNF-α as a significant predictor of expressive suppression use. In contrast, no inflammatory markers were associated with predicted use of cognitive reappraisal. Our findings suggest a link between inflammation and specific ER-strategy use. Future research should consider the effects of pro-vs. anti-inflammatory cytokines on adaptive ER and subsequent mental and physical health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100536
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity - Health
Volume26
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Emotion regulation
  • Inflammation
  • MIDUS II
  • Reappraisal
  • Suppression
  • TNF-Alpha

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