Increasing evidence suggests that systemic inflammation adversely affects social experiences and behaviors of older adults by changing the functional state of the brain. In this study, we investigated the relationships among systemic inflammation, functional network connectivity (FNC) of the whole brain, and social-network size using complete social-network data of older adults residing in a Korean village. Sixty-one participants were recruited from the Korean Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (KSHAP). Participants underwent a resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging scan. High sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels were measured as an inflammation marker. In-degree and out-degree network sizes were calculated based on the total number of intimate social relationships per participant. We demonstrated that hs-CRP levels were associated with decreased frontotemporal FNC. Stronger frontotemporal FNC was significantly correlated with a larger out-degree network size, suggesting that impaired frontotemporal communication in older adults decreases perceived social connectedness with other people. An exploratory mediation analysis supported the observation that increased systemic inflammation contributes to reduced out-degree social-network size among older adults by changing frontotemporal FNC. The present findings provide meaningful insight into the complex relationship between systemic inflammation and social quality of life.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Behavioral Neuroscience