Innate immunity impacts social-cognitive functioning in people with multiple sclerosis and healthy individuals: implications for IL-1ra and urinary immune markers

Jason A. Turner, Christine Padgett, Skye McDonald, Kiran D. K. Ahuja, Heather M. Francis, Chai K. Lim, Cynthia A. Honan

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Abstract

Social-cognitive difficulties can negatively impact interpersonal communication, shared social experience, and meaningful relationships. This pilot investigation examined the relationship between social-cognitive functioning and inflammatory markers in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and demographically-matched healthy individuals. Additionally, we compared the immune marker profile in serum and urine-matched samples. Social cognitive functioning was objectively assessed using The Awareness of Social Inference Test – Short (TASIT-S) and subjectively assessed using self-reports of abilities in emotion recognition, emotional empathy, and cognitive theory of mind. In people with MS and healthy individuals, there were moderate-to-large negative relationships between pro-inflammatory biomarkers (serum IL-1β, IL-17, TNF-α, IP-10, MIP-1α, and urine IP-10, MIP-1β) of the innate immune system and social-cognitive functioning. In MS, a higher serum concentration of the anti-inflammatory marker IL-1ra was associated with better social-cognitive functioning (i.e., self-reported emotional empathy and TASIT-S sarcasm detection performance). However, there were mixed findings for anti-inflammatory serum markers IL-4 and IL-10. Overall, our findings indicate a relationship between pro-inflammatory cytokines and social-cognitive abilities. Future studies may provide greater insight into biologically-derived inflammatory processes, sickness behaviour, and their connection with social cognition.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100254
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBrain, Behavior, & Immunity - Health
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Social cognition
  • Inflammation
  • TASIT-S
  • Theory of mind
  • Emotion perception
  • Sarcasm
  • Emotional empathy
  • Sickness behaviour
  • Innate immunity

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