Resilience, Adversity, Gene Expression, and Wellbeing

Chronic social adversity may lead to a “conserved transcriptional response to adversity (CTRA)” with higher levels of pro-inflammatory genes and lower levels of antiviral- and antibody-related genes. Certain psychological resilience factors have been found to alleviate CTRA (Cole et al., 2015).

What are the influences of psychological resilience and adversity factors on CTRA?

A recent study was done to find out the relevant influences of these factors among 108 community-dwelling older adults with the mean age of 73 (Cole et al., 2015). The resilience factors included the well-being with purpose and meaning in life. The adversity factors included perceived social isolation and loneliness.

The study examined the CTRA gene expression in the peripheral blood samples and the correlations with the factors of loneliness and well-being (Cole et al., 2015). The researchers observed elevated levels of CTRA gene expression related to loneliness. On the other hand, lower levels of the gene expression were found to be related to well-being.

In addition, the resilience factors had the effects of alleviation and compensation for the adverse influences of loneliness on the gene expression (Cole et al., 2015). Such associations suggest potential strategies for improving health problems related to social isolation through the strengthen of resilience factors such as purpose and meaning in life.


Cole SW, Levine ME, Arevalo JM, Ma J, Weir DR, Crimmins EM. Loneliness, eudaimonia, and the human conserved transcriptional response to adversity. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2015 Dec;62:11-7. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2015.07.001.

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