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Clinical Trial ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02167

Sex differences in the effect of inflammation on subjective social status: a randomized controlled trial of endotoxin in healthy young adults

 Mona Moieni1,  Keely A. Muscatell2, 3, Ivana Jevtic1, Elizabeth C. Breen4,  Michael R. Irwin4 and  Naomi I. Eisenberger1*
  • 1Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, United States
  • 2Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, College of Arts and Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States
  • 3UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States
  • 4Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, United States

It has been established that inflammation leads to a variety of changes in social experience, but one area of social experience that has been overlooked is subjective social status. Furthermore, given sex differences in the relationship between inflammation and social status, males may be more sensitive to inflammation-induced changes in social status. However, no previous studies in humans have examined this possibility. In the present study, healthy young participants (n = 115) were randomly assigned to receive either endotoxin, an experimental inflammatory challenge, or placebo. Participants reported their subjective social status at baseline (prior to injection), and approximately two hours later (time of peak inflammatory response for the endotoxin group). Results, using ANCOVA analyses, indicated that males exposed to endotoxin, but not females, reported lower levels of subjective social status at the peak of inflammatory response (vs. placebo). These results suggest that males may be more sensitive to the effects of inflammation in certain social domains, such as perceived social status.

Keywords: Inflammation, subjective social status, Social Behavior, endotoxin, Sex

Received: 30 Jul 2019; Accepted: 09 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Moieni, Muscatell, Jevtic, Breen, Irwin and Eisenberger. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Naomi I. Eisenberger, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, United States, neisenbe@ucla.edu