Loneliness in healthy young adults predicts inflammatory responsiveness to a mild immune challenge in vivo

Brain Behav Immun. 2019 Nov:82:298-301. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2019.08.196. Epub 2019 Aug 30.


The established link between loneliness and poor health outcomes may stem from aberrant inflammatory regulation. The present study tested whether loneliness predicted the inflammatory response to a standardised in vivo immune challenge. Using a within-subjects double blind placebo-controlled design, 40 healthy men (mean age = 25, SD = 5) received a Salmonella Typhi vaccination (0.025 mg; Typhim Vi, Sanofi Pasteur, UK) and placebo (saline) on two separate occasions. Loneliness was assessed using the R-UCLA loneliness scale. Regression analyses showed that those that reported feeling more lonely exhibited an elevated interleukin-6 response (β = 0.564, 95% confidence interval [0.003, 0.042], p < .05). This association withstood adjustment for potentially confounding variables, including age, sleep quality, socio-emotional factors, and health factors. The present findings are in line with evidence that loneliness may shift immune system responsivity, suggesting a potential biobehavioural pathway linking loneliness to impaired health.

Keywords: Immune dysregulation; Loneliness; Mild inflammation; Typhoid vaccination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-6 / analysis
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology*
  • Loneliness / psychology*
  • Male
  • Salmonella typhi / immunology
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines / immunology


  • Interleukin-6
  • Vaccines