Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) and Human Social Genomics

Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) studies the relationships between behaviors and health, especially the role of immunological mechanisms underlying how the mind and body interact. That is, the interactions between the behavior and immunity, as well as the nervous system. The human adaptive responses are a complicated network composed of many different parts, including the responses of the nervous system and the immunoregulatory processes.


Various topics have been studied in psychoneuroimmunology, such as the interactions between the nervous system and the immune system including the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. These topics also include the roles of the nervous system and immune responses in behavioral changes, stress responses, and physical disorders such as infectious diseases.


In addition to the biological factors, external social conditions together with the subjective perceptions of these situations have been found to affect the internal biological processes at various levels, including the gene expressions (Slavich and Cole). The field studying such interactions is called “human social genomics.”


Genetic factors have been found to be involved in the social-environmental regulation. Gene expressions can be influenced by the neural and molecular changes result from social processes. Genetic polymorphisms may play a role in the individual responses to the social context. The interactions between social and genetic factors may affect complex behavioral and disease phenotypes. The systems studies of these interactions may contribute to the understanding of health and diseases.




Slavich GM, Cole SW. The Emerging Field of Human Social Genomics. Clin Psychol Sci. 2013 Jul;1(3):331-348.

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