Personality and Cognition: The Mediating Role of Inflammatory Markers.

TitlePersonality and Cognition: The Mediating Role of Inflammatory Markers.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsStephan, Y, Sutin, AR, Luchetti, M, Aschwanden, D, Terracciano, A
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology, Series B
ISSN Number1758-5368
KeywordsCognition, Inflammation, longitudinal, Personality

OBJECTIVES: Five-Factor Model personality traits are associated consistently with cognition. Inflammation has been hypothesized as a biological pathway in this association, but this assumption has yet to be tested. The present study tested inflammatory markers as mediators between personality traits and cognition.

METHODS: Participants were from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS; N= 4,364; 60% women; Mean age= 64.48 years, SD= 8.79). Personality traits and demographic factors were assessed in 2010/2012. Data on inflammatory markers [High Sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), Interleukin-6 (IL-6), soluble tumor necrosis factor 1 (sTNFR1), Interleukin-10 (IL-10), Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1] were obtained in 2016 from the HRS Venuous Blood Study. Cognition was assessed in 2020 using the modified Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICSm).

RESULTS: Higher neuroticism was related to lower cognition at follow-up, whereas higher extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness were associated with better cognition. Higher extraversion and higher conscientiousness were related to lower hsCRP, IL-6, IL-10, IL-1Ra, and sTNFR1, and higher openness was associated with lower IL-10, IL-1Ra, and sTNFR1 and to higher sTGF-β1. Lower sTNFR1 partially mediated the associations between conscientiousness, extraversion, and openness and cognition at follow-up, explaining an estimated 4 to 12% of these associations. The mediating role of sTNFR1 persisted when physical activity and depressive symptoms were included as additional mediators.

CONCLUSION: The present study provides new evidence on personality and inflammatory markers. Consistent with the inflammation hypothesis, the sTNFR1 finding supports a potential biological pathway between personality and cognition.

Citation Key13626
PubMed ID37813576
PubMed Central IDPMC10745263