Peer victimization predicts heightened inflammatory reactivity to social stress in cognitively vulnerable adolescents

Matteo Giletta, George M Slavich, Karen D Rudolph, Paul D Hastings, Matthew K Nock, Mitchell J Prinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: 

During adolescence, peer victimization is a potent type of social stressor that can confer enduring risk for poor mental and physical health. Given recent research implicating inflammation in promoting a variety of serious mental and physical health problems, this study examined the role that peer victimization and cognitive vulnerability (i.e. negative cognitive styles and hopelessness) play in shaping adolescents' pro-inflammatory cytokine responses to an acute social stressor.

Methods: 

Adolescent girls at risk for psychopathology (n = 157; Mage = 14.73 years; SD = 1.38) were exposed to a laboratory-based social stressor before and after which we assessed salivary levels of three key pro-inflammatory cytokines - interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α).

Results: 

As hypothesized, adolescents with greater peer victimization exposure exhibited greater increases in IL-6 and IL1-β in response to the laboratory-based social stressor. Moreover, for all three cytokines individually, as well as for a combined latent factor of inflammation, peer victimization predicted enhanced inflammatory responding most strongly for adolescents with high levels of hopelessness.

Conclusions: 

The findings reveal a biological pathway by which peer victimization may interact with cognitive vulnerability to influence health in adolescence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-139
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume59
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • Peer victimization
  • cytokines
  • social stress
  • hopelessness
  • adolescence
  • HEALTHY-YOUNG ADULTS
  • PSYCHOLOGICAL ADJUSTMENT
  • INTERNALIZING SYMPTOMS
  • DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS
  • NEURAL SENSITIVITY
  • PHYSICAL HEALTH
  • CHILDREN
  • CHILDHOOD
  • RESPONSES
  • VALIDITY

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