The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 18 No. 6 • October 2015

Negative and Competitive Social Interactions Are Related to Heightened Proinflammatory Cytokine Activity

We may have reported this before, but it is so relevant to the matter of bonobo vs. chimp style social relationships, that we mention it again here. A recent study (Chiang, 2012) found that, among 120 healthy young adults who kept daily diaries for 8 days that noted positive, negative, and competitive social interactions, the negative social interactions and those involving hostile competition (not ordinary leisure time competitive activities) led to significantly higher inflammatory cytokine levels. (The volunteers were tested within 4 days of completing the daily diaries, but the effect of social interactions that took place in the intervening period could not be determined.) It would be interesting to measure the level of proinflammatory cytokines in bonobos as compared to chimpanzees.

  • Chiang, Eisenberger, et al. Negative and competitive social interactions are related to heightened proinflammatory cytokine activity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 109(6)1878-82 (2012).

(*) Comment on Hippocrates’ Notion of the Brain Circa 400 BC (see quote above)

It is stunning how much had been figured out so long ago by the most learned. “Moistness” in Hippocrates’ quote probably refers to the cholinergic nervous system, which when overactive, causes profuse sweating and oodles of saliva (don’t know whether the brain itself is “moist”). This visible moistness is associated with conditions such as epilepsy, dissociative disorders, schizophrenia, and other states that could be thought of as madness. Interestingly, compensatory hypersensitivity to the cholinergic nervous system (Scinto, 2008) under conditions where cholinergic signaling is deficient speculates Sandy and Durk may be involved in the development of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, both of which can be accompanied by dementia, with AD being the most severe, of course. Thus, the cholinergic system may play a complex role in the development of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as the following reports on the negative impact of anticholinergic drugs and the beneficial effects of cholinergic agonists in a model of cholinergic denervation show.

  • Scinto. Pupillary cholinergic hypersensitivity predicts cognitive decline in community dwelling elders. Neurobiol Aging. 29:222-30 (2008).

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