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Self-reported experiences of everyday discrimination are associated with elevated C-reactive protein levels in older African-American adults

Brain Behavior and Immunity
DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2009.11.011
  • Discrimination (Psychology)
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • African-Americans
  • Aging
  • Prejudice
  • Biology
  • Education
  • Medicine


Abstract Self-reported experiences of “everyday” discrimination have been linked to indices of cardiovascular disease and overall mortality and findings have been particularly pronounced for African-American populations. However, the biological mechanisms underlying these associations remain unclear. C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation, is a known correlate of cardiovascular and other health outcomes and has also been linked to several psychosocial processes. To our knowledge, no studies have examined the association between experiences of discrimination and CRP. We examined the cross-sectional association between self-reported experiences of discrimination and CRP in a sample of 296 older African-American adults (70% female, mean age=73.1). Experiences of discrimination were assessed with the 9-item everyday discrimination scale and CRP was assayed from blood samples. In linear regression models adjusted for age, sex and education, experiences of discrimination were associated with higher levels of CRP (B=.10, p=.03). This association remained significant after additional adjustments for depressive symptoms (B=.10, p=.04), smoking, and chronic health conditions (heart disease, diabetes, hypertension) that might influence inflammation (B=.11, p=.02). However, results were attenuated when body mass index (BMI) was added to the model (B=.09, p=.07). In conclusion, self-reported experiences of everyday discrimination are associated with higher levels of CRP in older African-American adults, although this association is not completely independent of BMI.

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