Discrimination and systemic inflammation: A critical review and synthesis

Brain Behav Immun. 2020 Oct:89:465-479. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2020.07.017. Epub 2020 Jul 17.


Exposure to discrimination or unfair treatment has emerged as an important risk factor for illness and disease that disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities. Discriminatory experiences may operate like other stressors in that they activate physiological responses that adversely affect the maintenance of homeostasis. Research suggests that inflammation plays a critical role in the pathophysiology of stress-related diseases. Recent findings on discrimination and inflammation are discussed. We highlight limitations in the current evidence and provide recommendations for future studies that seek to examine the association between discrimination and inflammation.

Keywords: Bias; Discrimination; Inflammation; Stress; Unfair treatment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Ethnicity*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Minority Groups
  • Racial Groups*
  • Risk Factors