Trait anxiety and its relationship to peripheral cytokine production in a healthy human sample

Open Access
Francois, Olivia Mischele
Area of Honors:
Biobehavioral Health
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Sonia Angele Cavigelli, Thesis Supervisor
  • Lori Anne Francis, Honors Advisor
  • anxiety and inflammation
  • depression
  • proinflammatory cytokines
  • human
  • trait anxiety
  • state anxiety
  • cortisol
The aim of the present study was to determine if non-pathological trait anxiety was associated with elevated levels of cortisol and inflammation, gauged in this study as Interluekin-6 (IL-6) and Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). The sample included 56 healthy college students from the Penn State University campus made up of twenty males and thirty-six females; the females were divided into those in the luteal and follicular menstrual stage. Patients participated in the same protocol, which consisted of a baseline rest period, a challenge period (13.5 minute speech challenge and 15 minute mental arithmetic test), and a recovery period. Blood and saliva measures were collected at three time points during the study. The first hypothesis stated increased trait anxiety was associated with increased cortisol levels. The second hypothesis posed that increased trait anxiety is associated with increased levels of inflammation. The third hypothesis was that cortisol levels predicted inflammation better than trait anxiety per se. Follicular females showed a relationship between basal cortisol levels and trait anxiety as well as a relationship between basal cortisol levels and inflammation. There was no relationship between trait anxiety and inflammation.