The association between incarceration and housing insecurity and advanced immune age during late life

TitleThe association between incarceration and housing insecurity and advanced immune age during late life
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsMacConnachie, L, Zhang, YS, Farina, M, Gutierrez, C, Hoover, A, He, Y, Aiello, AE, Noppert, GA
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
ISSN Number0277-9536
KeywordsAging, Homelessness, Housing insecurity, HRS, immune aging, Immunosenescence, incarceration, Inequity, psychosocial stressors

Emerging evidence suggests that psychosocial stress ages the immune system. Accordingly, immune aging may be an important potential mechanism linking psychosocial stress to aging-related decline and disease. Incarceration and housing insecurity represent severe and complex experiences of a multitude of psychosocial stressors, including discrimination, violence, and poverty. In this study, we investigated the association between incarceration and/or housing insecurity and advanced immune age in adults aged 55 and older. Our sample was derived from the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS), with n = 7003 individuals with valid housing insecurity data and n = 7523 with valid incarceration data. From 2016 Venous Blood Study data, we assessed immune aging using a comprehensive set of immune markers including inflammatory markers (IL-6, CRP, s-TNFR1), markers of viral control (CMV IgG antibodies), and ratios of T cell phenotypes (CD8+:CD4+, CD + Memory: Naïve, CD4+ Memory: Naïve, CD8+ Memory: Naïve ratios). We found that both incarceration and housing insecurity were strongly associated with more advanced immune aging as indicated by increased inflammation, reduced viral control, and reduction in naïve T cells relative to memory T cells. Given that those who experienced incarceration, housing insecurity, and/or are racialized minorities were less likely to be included in this study, our results likely underestimated these associations. Despite these limitations, our study provided strong evidence that experiencing incarceration and/or housing insecurity may accelerate the aging of the immune system.

Citation KeyMACCONNACHIE2024116698