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Social isolation, loneliness, and inflammation: A multi-cohort investigation in early and mid-adulthood

Matthews, T; Rasmussen, LJH; Ambler, A; Danese, A; Eugen-Olsen, J; Fancourt, D; Fisher, HL; ... Moffitt, TE; + view all (2024) Social isolation, loneliness, and inflammation: A multi-cohort investigation in early and mid-adulthood. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity , 115 pp. 727-736. 10.1016/j.bbi.2023.11.022. Green open access

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Abstract

Social isolation and loneliness have been associated with poor health and increased risk for mortality, and inflammation might explain this link. We used data from the Danish TRIAGE Study of acutely admitted medical patients (N = 6,144, mean age 60 years), and from two population-representative birth cohorts: the New Zealand Dunedin Longitudinal Study (N = 881, age 45) and the UK Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study (N = 1448, age 18), to investigate associations of social isolation with three markers of systemic inflammation: C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and a newer inflammation marker, soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR), which is thought to index systemic chronic inflammation. In the TRIAGE Study, socially isolated patients (those living alone) had significantly higher median levels of suPAR (but not CRP or IL-6) compared with patients not living by themselves. Social isolation prospectively measured in childhood was longitudinally associated with higher CRP, IL-6, and suPAR levels in adulthood (at age 45 in the Dunedin Study and age 18 in the E-Risk Study), but only suPAR remained associated after controlling for covariates. Dunedin Study participants who reported loneliness at age 38 or age 45 had elevated suPAR at age 45. In contrast, E-Risk Study participants reporting loneliness at age 18 did not show any elevated markers of inflammation. In conclusion, social isolation was robustly associated with increased inflammation in adulthood, both in medical patients and in the general population. It was associated in particular with systemic chronic inflammation, evident from the consistently stronger associations with suPAR than other inflammation biomarkers.

Type: Article
Title: Social isolation, loneliness, and inflammation: A multi-cohort investigation in early and mid-adulthood
Location: Netherlands
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2023.11.022
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2023.11.022
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Social isolation, Loneliness, Systemic inflammation, Soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor, C-reactive protein, Interleukin-6, Inflammatory biomarkers
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10184878
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