Mood configurations and their relationship to immune system responses

Analyzing data on 2,057 healthy subjects in the Dutch Lifelines database we explore the relationship between immune system responses, thyroid hormone functioning and people’s mood that is expected to be moderated by social support. We focus (1) on the innate immune system cell count: monocytes, eosinophil granulocytes, basophilic granulocytes, neutrophil granulocytes; and thrombocytes; and (2) on the adaptive immune system cell count: lymphocytes (T, B and NK cells). Moods were measured on the positive (PA) and negative (NA) dimensions of the PANAS scale, divided in four groups based on their PA and NA median scores: hedonic, positive mood, negative mood and anhedonic. We focus further on (3) thyroid cells: T3 and T4; and (4) on social support. We found significant differences between mood groups and mean cell counts for basophilic granulocytes and thrombocytes but not for monocytes, eosinophil granulocytes and neutrophil granulocytes in the innate immune system. However, in the adaptive immune system we found mean lymphocyte cell counts to be different in all four mood groups. We also found that T3 and T4 levels differ significantly across all mood groups and work in very close association with lymphocytes to activate the adaptive immune system. These differences were most significant in the hedonic and anhedonic groups. The findings allow us to better understand mood groups, especially the hedonic and anhedonic groups, and open up new avenues for intervention.

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