Stressful events and reminders of such events may influence circulating cytokine levels, just as they influence several neuroendocrine processes. However, these cytokine changes may vary with the severity and chronicity of the stressor experienced, as well as the specific mood responses that participants express. In the present investigation, women in abusive or non-abusive dating relationship (N= 75) read a script about an abusive or non-abusive relationship and then reported their mood states, followed by the collection of a single blood sample 30. min later. The abused women who read the abuse-related script reported greater anger, sadness, shame, and anxiety than did the non-abused women. In non-abused women greater levels of anger and sadness, but not shame or anxiety, were associated with higher levels of the proinflammatory cytokine, interleukin-6 (IL-6), as well as the anti-inflammatory cytokine, IL-10, irrespective of whether they had read a script regarding an abusive relationship or a neutral script. In contrast, among abused women shown a neutral script, neither IL-6 nor IL-10 levels were related to their anger and sadness, whereas mood levels following the reading of a script regarding abuse were directly related to IL-6, although the extent of the association was lower than that evident in non-abused women. Levels of IL-10 in the abused women, unlike their non-abused counterparts, did not vary with mood state. These data suggest that cytokine levels and the relative balance of IL-6 and IL-10 ordinarily are associated with specific moods, but this relationship is not apparent among women in a chronic stress state.

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Department of Neuroscience

Danielson, A.M. (Anna Marie), Matheson, K, & Anisman, H. (2011). Cytokine levels at a single time point following a reminder stimulus among women in abusive dating relationships: Relationship to emotional states. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 36(1), 40–50. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.06.003