Acculturative Stress, Mental Health Symptoms, and the Role of Salivary Inflammatory Markers Among a Latino Sample

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Objectives: Exposure to psychosocial stressors is associated with increases in adverse mental health outcomes and inflammatory markers. Limited research has investigated if acculturative stress, related to cultural adaptation in Latinos, one of the fastest growing minority groups in the United States, follows a similar pattern. This study hypothesized that acculturative stress would be associated with increased mental health symptoms as well as increases in salivary inflammatory markers. In addition, it was hypothesized that higher levels of salivary inflammatory markers would mediate the pathways between acculturative stress and mental health symptoms. The ability of salivary inflammatory markers to moderate the relationship between acculturative stress and mental health symptoms was also tested. Method: One hundred and fifty-four Latino participants were recruited from a local university. Participants completed measures of acculturative stress, perceived stress, state/trait anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Saliva samples measured C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin (IL)-1β. Results: Acculturative stress was significantly associated with increases in perceived stress, state/trait anxiety and depressive symptoms. Salivary inflammatory markers did not mediate the relationship between acculturative stress and mental health symptoms. Alternatively, CRP, but not IL-1β, moderated the relationship between acculturative stress and state anxiety, such that when salivary CRP levels were low, there was a positive association between acculturative stress and state anxiety symptoms. Discussion: Results suggests that the interplay between acculturative stress and salivary inflammation might indicate risk for anxiety in vulnerable populations.

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