Getting into a heated argument with a spouse can cause inflammation that leads to increased gut permeability, according to research published in Psychoneuroendocrinology.
Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, of the Institute for Behavioral Research at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, and colleagues wrote that a “leaky gut” can impact energy balance, glucose metabolism and obesity-related inflammation.
“We know that inflammation leads to leaky gut and causes a number of age-related diseases,” Kiecolt-Glaser said in a press release. “Our research shows that marital stress is furthering that inflammation.”
To investigate leaky gut as a potential link between marital stress and heightened inflammation, Kiecolt-Glaser and colleagues conducted a secondary analysis of a double-blind, randomized crossover study that included 43 healthy married couples. Their aim was to examine serial assessments of two endotoxin biomarkers — lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (LBP) and soluble CD14 (sCD14) — as well as C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and TNF-alpha.
The couples (married at least 3 years; mean age 38.22 years) discussed marital disagreements during two 9.5-hour visits. Investigators collected data on marital stress by using behavior coding and assessed individuals’ mood disorder history using the structured diagnostic interview for DSM-IV.
Marital distress and history of depression can cause a "leaky gut," which can lead to various health complications.
Kiecolt-Glaser and colleagues found a strong association between hostile behavior and LBP levels (P = .0005). A participant with higher hostile behavior (75th percentile) had a 7.2% higher LBP level than a participant with lower hostile behavior (25th percentile). They also found that LBP (P = .007) and LBP/sCD14 ratio (P = .02) were associated with CRP levels. Investigators found that LBP/sCD14 ratios were also tied to hostile behavior, as well as mood disorder history.
Kiecolt-Glaser and colleagues wrote that their findings show that a stressful marriage and depression can lead to inflammation caused by a leaky gut.
“Both marital discord and depression have notable physiological repercussions, as documented in the poorer clinical outcomes for conditions ranging from cardiovascular disease to metabolic syndrome and diabetes,” they wrote. “This study illustrates novel pathways through which a troubled marriage and a mood disorder history could contribute to each of these high-risk conditions. Accordingly, treatments that address marital distress and/or depression could also benet both mental and physical health.” – by Alex Young
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.