Targeted Rejection Predicts Decreased Anti-Inflammatory Gene Expression and Increased Symptom Severity in Youth With Asthma

Michael L.M. Murphy*, George M. Slavich, Edith Chen, Gregory E. Miller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although responses to different stressors are sometimes assumed to be similar, recent research has demonstrated that certain types of stress, such as targeted rejection, are particularly potent. To test such associations in a chronic-disease model, we examined how noninterpersonal, interpersonal, and targeted-rejection major life events predicted changes in gene expression and symptom severity in 121 youths with asthma who were assessed every 6 months for 2 years. Youths who had recently experienced targeted rejection had lower messenger RNA expression for signaling molecules that control airway inflammation and obstruction (specifically, the glucocorticoid receptor and β2-adrenergic receptor) than youths who had not experienced targeted rejection. These associations were specific to targeted rejection and stronger for youths higher in subjective social status. Higher-status youths exposed to targeted rejection (but not other types of stress) also reported more asthma symptoms. These data demonstrate stressor-specific associations with molecular-signaling pathways and the severity of asthma, and they suggest that threats to the social self may be particularly deleterious.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-121
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Science
Volume26
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 14 2015

Keywords

  • asthma
  • gene expression
  • health
  • social rejection
  • social status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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