To assess, to control, to exclude: Effects of biobehavioral factors on circulating inflammatory markers

Mary Frances O'Connor, Julie E. Bower, Hyong Jin Cho, J. David Creswell, Stoyan Dimitrov, Mary E. Hamby, Michael A. Hoyt, Jennifer L. Martin, Theodore F. Robles, Erica K. Sloan, Ka Mala S. Thomas, Michael R. Irwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

415 Scopus citations


Behavioral scientists have increasingly included inflammatory biology as mechanisms in their investigation of psychosocial dynamics on the pathobiology of disease. However, a lack of standardization of inclusion and exclusion criteria and assessment of relevant control variables impacts the interpretation of these studies. The present paper reviews and discusses human biobehavioral factors that can affect the measurement of circulating markers of inflammation. Keywords relevant to inflammatory biology and biobehavioral factors were searched through PubMed. Age, sex, and hormonal status, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and race, body mass index, exercise, diet, caffeine, smoking, alcohol, sleep disruption, antidepressants, aspirin, and medications for cardiovascular disease are all reviewed. A tiered set of recommendations as to whether each variable should be assessed, controlled for, or used as an exclusion criteria is provided. These recommendations provide a framework for observational and intervention studies investigating linkages between psychosocial and behavioral factors and inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)887-897
Number of pages11
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Biobehavioral
  • Body mass index
  • Exclusion criteria
  • Exercise
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin
  • SES

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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