Stress and the SES-Health Gradient: Getting under the Skin

Jennifer Dowd, University of Michigan
Allison Aiello, University of Michigan
Mary Haan, University of Michigan

Psychosocial stress is a leading explanation for the SES-Health gradient. While recent work focuses on neuroendocrine markers such as cortisol and the SES-health gradient, results have been mixed. We investigate the role of stress with a novel biomarker of immune function--antibody levels of a latent viral infection, cytomegalovirus (CMV), in a sample of elderly Latinos in the Sacramento Area Latino Study (SALSA). CMV, a type of herpesvirus, is extremely prevalent in older people, representing very common early-life exposure. It is suggested that stress-induced viral reactivation later in life reduces the capacity of the immune system to respond to other challenges, and the virus has been implicated in both cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease. We will test the relationship between education, income, and antibody levels of CMV, and the extent to which this biological marker of immune function explains the relationship between SES and cardiovascular disease in our sample.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Poster Session 6