'Social Climbing' Strengthens Immune System, Study On Monkey Suggests

Admin | Published 2016-11-25 20:21

This lucrative habit of socializing and reaching a better rank in social ladder seem to have an overall effect in one's health. Who would've thought that this going up the ranks whether legit or covetous can give one's health a boost.

Climbing and exercising - why not?

Money and privileges are known to contribute to one's health status. Low social status is associated with poor health and shorter life span. Just like how money and education are linked to the decline of old people suffering with dementia, climbing up the ranks do so too. However, unlike the indirect effect of money and education to the decline of dementia, does going up the social ranks have a direct hand in changing one's biological immunity?

To find out, researchers from Department of Genetics, University of Georgia studied rhesus macaques which thrived in hierarchical social status.

In the rhesus world, those who are in the higher ranks get a good grooming from their peers but those who aren't are treated like an outcast and tend to get attacked. It is also vital to the study that they manipulate the social ranks of few monkeys so the researchers introduced an unknown captive macaque into the group. The order of introduction to the group matters on the monkeys' ranking later on. The one who gets introduced first will rank higher than the one introduced second. The last to be introduced would get the lowest rank. After three months, the researchers drew blood samples from the monkeys. In those samples, they purified five types of immune cells and measured the gene expression across their genomes. They found out that 1600 genes in natural killer cells were affected significantly by social status. They extracted more of those immune cells and simulated a bacterial infection to test the effect made to natural killer cells. The result showed that the immune cells of the lower ranking monkeys were less effective in fighting the infection.

Because I can now afford premium gym membership with my Nike trainers

The researchers wanted to see if the effect of social ranking were correlated. The researchers shook the monkeys' social ranking order by introducing the monkeys to another group of monkeys unknown to each other. The researchers found that the gene expression levels of immune cells changed in response to the change in social ranks. The cells were found to have improved in fighting infection. This study will help improve further studies on how social and environmental factors can affect ones' health in the immune level. The researchers did not take into account the genetic conditions or living conditions of the macaques prior to the study. Nevertheless, this will further improve future studies on how society can direct or indirectly promote health. The study is published in Science.
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