TNF-α levels in cancer patients relate to social variables

Phillip T. Marucha, Timothy R. Crespin, Rebecca A. Shelby, Barbara L. Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) is an important cytokine associated with tumor regression and increased survival time for cancer patients. Research evidence relates immune factors (e.g., natural killer (NK) cell counts, NK cell lysis, lymphocyte profile, and lymphocyte proliferation) to the frequency and quality of social relations among cancer patients. We hypothesized that disruptions in social relations would be associated with lower TNF-α responses, and conversely, that reports of positive changes in social relations correlate with stronger responses. A prospective design measured changes in social activity and relationship satisfaction with a partner in 44 breast cancer patients at the time of cancer diagnosis, and initial surgery and 12 months later. Results indicated that patients reporting increased social activities or satisfaction exhibited stronger stimulated TNF-α responses. This is the first study to link changes in patient social relations with a cancer-relevant immune variable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-525
Number of pages5
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Dyadic adjustment
  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Social adjustment
  • Social support
  • Tumor necrosis factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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