Pessimism correlates with leukocyte telomere shortness and elevated interleukin-6 in post-menopausal women

A. O'Donovan, J. Lin, F. S. Dhabhar, O. Wolkowitz, J. M. Tillie, E. Blackburn, E. Epel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations

Abstract

The combination of less positive and more negative expectations for the future (i.e., lower optimism and higher pessimism) increases risk for disease and early mortality. We tested the possibility that expectancies might influence health outcomes by altering the rate of biological aging, specifically of the immune system (immunosenescence). However, no studies to date have examined associations between optimism or pessimism and indicators of immunosenescence such as leukocyte telomere length (TL) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels. We investigated whether dispositional tendencies towards optimism and pessimism were associated with TL and IL-6 in a sample of 36 healthy post-menopausal women. Multiple regression analyses where optimism and pessimism were entered simultaneously, and chronological age and caregiver status were controlled, indicated that pessimism was independently associated with shorter TL (β = -.68, p = .001) and higher IL-6 concentrations (β = .50, p = .02). In contrast, optimism was not independently associated with either measure of immunosenescence. These findings suggest that dispositional pessimism may increase IL-6 and accelerate rate of telomere shortening. Mechanistic causal relationships between these parameters need to be investigated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-449
Number of pages4
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Volume23
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2009

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Interleukin-6
  • Optimism
  • Pessimism
  • Telomere length

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Pessimism correlates with leukocyte telomere shortness and elevated interleukin-6 in post-menopausal women'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this