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Keywords:

  • C-reactive protein/analysis;
  • mental health;
  • health status;
  • stress;
  • psychological/immunity;
  • health surveys

Carpenter LL, Gawuga CE, Tyrka AR, Price LH. C-reactive protein, early life stress, and wellbeing in healthy adults.

Objective:  To determine whether C-reactive protein (CRP) can serve as a marker for alterations in immune function prior to the manifestation of significant psychiatric and medical disorders.

Method:  Ninety-two healthy adults were recruited from the community and determined to be free of psychiatric or medical disorders. The concentration of plasma CRP from a single resting sample was examined in relation to current mental and physical health as well as to self-reported history of early life adversity.

Results:  C-reactive protein showed a significant positive correlation with body mass index (BMI; r = 0.477, < 0.001). Non-specific pain, fatigue, and lower overall quality of physical health were all associated with higher CRP concentrations (all P < 0.05 or P < 0.01), after controlling for effect of BMI and other relevant covariates. Subthreshold depression symptoms and other indices of mental/emotional wellbeing were not associated with CRP, nor was CRP significantly linked to any measures of early life adversity.

Conclusion:  Lower-quality physical health and wellbeing, but not the presence of mood/anxiety symptoms or early life stress (ELS), were significantly related to plasma CRP. Elevated CRP does not appear to be a fundamental consequence of ELS among healthy adults.