Personality Traits like Extraversion and Conscientiousness Linked to Pro-Inflammatory Genes Expression

personality and proinflammatory genes

A study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology demonstrates that leukocyte gene expression correlates with two major dimensions of human personality, extraversion and conscientiousness.

A recent study in nonhuman primates provides new insights into the neuroanatomical basis of personality, showing that personality traits are linked to the anatomy of specific brain structures such as the anterior cingulate cortex and the brain prefrontal cortex.

Research in the neuroscience of personality has also provided connections between dopaminergic neurotransmission, and the reward-processing functions of the dopamine system and various aspects of personality and individual differences.

For centuries, personality traits have been linked to health status and outcome. New research indicates that the frontal cortex of the brain and asymmetries in this region may constitute the neurobiological foundation of broad personality traits.

In the Psychoneuroendocrinology study the research teams from the University of Nottingham, UK; the Washington University, St. Louis, and the University of California, Los Angeles, USA provide evidence that extraversion is associated with up-regulated expression of pro-inflammatory genes, whereas conscientiousness is associated with down-regulated expression of pro-inflammatory genes.

Interestingly, as personality may be associated with inflammation, recent research also indicates that personality traits such as conscientiousness and neuroticism are associated with levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-6 [A.R. Sutin et al., 2010; N.A. Turiano et al., 2013].

Despite the fact that causality and the biological mechanisms behind these associations remain poorly understood, further research along these lines may provide new insights into the well-known epidemiological associations between personality and physical health.

Source: Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2015, 52:72-82. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.10.028. Epub 2014 Nov 11.
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