Typhoid Vaccine Does Not Impact Feelings of Social Connection or Social Behavior In a Randomized Crossover Trial Among Middle-Aged Female Breast Cancer Survivors

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Background: Inflammation can have social consequences, which may be relevant to inflammation’s link with depression. The current study tests whether a typhoid vaccine increases feelings of social disconnection and avoidance behavior.

Method: In two full-day visits at least three weeks apart, 172 postmenopausal breast cancer survivors (Stage I-IIIA) each received a typhoid capsular polysaccharide vaccination and a saline placebo injection in a random sequence. Blood was drawn prior to the injection, as well as every 90 min thereafter for 8 h to assess the inflammatory response (interleukin-6, IL-6; interleukin-1 receptor antagonist, IL-1Ra). At both visits, women completed the Social Connection Scale at 0 and 8.5 h post-vaccination as well as implicit and explicit social avoidance tasks at 7 h post-vaccination.

Results: The typhoid vaccine triggered rises in both inflammatory markers (ps < 0.01), but it did not impact feelings of social connection (p = .32), or performance on the implicit (p = .34) or explicit tasks (p = .37). Inflammatory rises did not predict feelings of social connection (ps > 0.64) or performance on explicit (ps > 0.73) or implicit (ps > 0.88) social avoidance tasks.

Conclusion: Milder inflammatory stimuli may not affect social processes. Higher levels of inflammation or, relatedly, more sickness symptoms may be necessary to recapitulate prior findings of social avoidance.

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Brain, Behavior, and Immunity



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