14th Annual IGSS Conference • October 20-21, 2023

Integrating Genetics and the Social Sciences 2023

Socioepigenomics of Cellular Immunosenescence in Adulthood: The Add Health Study

Jennifer Momkus, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Presentation slides

Immunosenescence refers to a set of standard changes in the immune system that occur as a person ages, typically characterized by a diminished capacity to combat new infections and an increased susceptibility to chronic diseases and cancer. Research indicates that the social environment can expedite immunosenescence, particularly in individuals who experience social disadvantage, enduring stress, or isolation. As such, deterioration of the immune system may contribute to hastened biological aging and the onset of health disparities. The data employed in this study was derived from the home exam carried out during Wave V of Add Health. Add Health is a continuing longitudinal cohort study that began tracking participants in the 1994-1995 academic year and is representative of a nationwide sample of U.S adolescents from that year. To evaluate immunosenescence, we inspected CD4 and CD8 naive and effector memory cells, in addition to several other cell surface markers, using various genomic methodologies. Our findings suggest the existence of social patterning of immunosenescence in the US, even among young adults. These results indicate that immunosenescence constitutes a significant biological pathway through which social disadvantage impacts later life health outcomes, beginning from an early age.

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Allison E. Aiello, Columbia University, New York, NY
Jennifer Momkus, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Chantel L. Martin, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Brandt Levitt, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Rebecca C. Stebbins, Kings College
Lauren Gaydosh, University of Texas, Austin
Alan A. Cohen, Columbia University
Michael Shanahan, University of Zurich
Kathleen Mullan Harris, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill