Anger is associated with increased IL-6 stress reactivity in women, but only among those low in social support

Int J Behav Med. 2014 Dec;21(6):936-45. doi: 10.1007/s12529-013-9368-0.


Background: Social connections moderate the effects of high negative affect on health. Affective states (anger, fear, and anxiety) predict interleukin-6 (IL-6) reactivity to acute stress; in turn, this reactivity predicts risk of cardiovascular disease progression.

Purpose: Here, we examined whether perceived social support mitigates the relationship between negative affect and IL-6 stress reactivity.

Method: Forty-eight postmenopausal women completed a standardized mental lab stressor with four blood draws at baseline and 30, 50, and 90 min after the onset of the stressor and anger, anxiety, and fear were assessed 10 min after task completion. Participants self-rated levels of social support within a week prior to the stressor.

Results: Only anger was related to IL-6 stress reactivity-those experiencing high anger after the stressor had significant increases in IL-6. IL-6 reactivity was marginally associated with perceived support, but more strikingly, perceived support mitigated anger associations with IL-6 stress reactivity.

Conclusion: Supportive ties can dampen the relationship of anger to pro-inflammatory reactivity to acute stress. Implications to cardiovascular disease are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anger / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause / blood*
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological / blood*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology


  • Interleukin-6