Work, meaning, and gene regulation: Findings from a Japanese information technology firm

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2016 Oct;72:175-81. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.07.004. Epub 2016 Jul 12.


The meaning in life, typically reflected in a sense of purpose, growth, or social embeddedness (called eudaimonic well-being, EWB), has been linked to favorable health outcomes. In particular, this experience is inversely associated with the conserved transcriptional response to adversity (CTRA), which involves up-regulation of genes linked to inflammation and down-regulation of genes linked to viral resistance. So far, however, little is known about how this transcriptome profile might be situated in specific socio-cultural contexts. Here, we tested 106 male workers at a large Japanese IT firm and found that the CTRA is inversely associated not only with general EWB but also with a more contextualized sense of meaning derived from the perceived significance of one's work and a sense of interdependence with others in the workplace. These results expand previous links between personal well-being and CTRA gene expression to include the socio-cultural determinants of meaning in life.

Keywords: Gene regulation; Wellbeing; Work meaning; and interdependence with others.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Information Technology
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Transcriptome / physiology*