Cross-border ties, nativity, and inflammatory markers in a population-based prospective study of Latino adults

Soc Sci Med. 2018 Aug;211:21-30. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2018.05.028. Epub 2018 May 16.


Even after migration, immigrants and their descendants may continue to have ties to family and friends who remain in places of origin. Recent research suggests that these cross-border social ties have implications for health, although this scholarship has been limited to self-reported outcomes. Using data from the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging (SALSA), we estimate associations between cross-border social ties and inflammatory biomarkers among Latino adults (n = 1786). We find that immigrants who maintained any cross-border connection to family and friends in Latin America had significantly lower levels of baseline interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP) compared to their US-born counterparts with no cross-border ties. These results held for values of CRP at five-year follow-up for men only. In contrast, US-born women with cross-border ties to family and friends in Latin America had both significantly higher levels of CRP and significantly lower levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) at five-year follow-up relative to their US-born counterparts with no cross-border ties. We find descriptively that men who have cross-border ties are also less likely to be socially isolated within local contexts. Considering place-of-origin social connections may contribute critical nuance to studies of immigrant health, including disparities in inflammatory markers that may serve as indicators of underlying chronic disease.

Keywords: Inflammation; Latinos; Nativity; Social ties; Transnationalism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • California
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data
  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data*
  • Family / ethnology
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / analysis
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Latin America / ethnology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Socioeconomic Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • IL6 protein, human
  • Interleukin-6
  • C-Reactive Protein