Lonely people have a higher chance of coming down with chronic inflammation diseases and the University of California, Los Angeles' Steven Cole is looking into why, The Economist reports. Cole is comparing the messenger RNA and gene expression levels of people who are lonely to those who are gregarious. He has found that while both groups have similar levels of messenger RNA, they have differences in gene expression levels. Namely, genes involved in preventing viral infections are less active in lonely people and more gregarious people had higher expression levels of genes involved in preventing bacterial infections. "What Dr Cole seems to have revealed, then, is a mechanism by which the environment (in this case the social environment) reaches inside a person's body and tweaks its genome so that it responds appropriately," The Economist writes. "It is not that the lonely and the gregarious are genetically different from each other. Rather, their genes are regulated differently, according to how sociable an individual is."
For Eleanor Rigby
Feb 26, 2011