Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 165, Issue 1, pp 169–180 | Cite as

Social well-being is associated with less pro-inflammatory and pro-metastatic leukocyte gene expression in women after surgery for breast cancer

  • Devika R. Jutagir
  • Bonnie B. Blomberg
  • Charles S. Carver
  • Suzanne C. Lechner
  • Kiara R. Timpano
  • Laura C. Bouchard
  • Lisa M. Gudenkauf
  • Jamie M. Jacobs
  • Alain Diaz
  • Susan K. Lutgendorf
  • Steve W. Cole
  • Aaron S. Heller
  • Michael H. AntoniEmail author



Satisfaction with social resources, or “social well-being,” relates to better adaptation and longer survival after breast cancer diagnosis. Biobehavioral mechanisms linking social well-being (SWB) to mental and physical health may involve inflammatory signaling. We tested whether reports of greater SWB were associated with lower levels of pro-inflammatory and pro-metastatic leukocyte gene expression after surgery for non-metastatic breast cancer.


Women (N = 50) diagnosed with non-metastatic (0–III) breast cancer were enrolled 2–8 weeks after surgery. SWB was assessed with the social/family well-being subscale of the FACT-B. Leukocyte gene expression for specific pro-inflammatory (cytokines, chemokines, and COX-2) and pro-metastatic genes (e.g., MMP9) was derived from microarray analysis.


Multiple regression analyses controlling for age, stage of disease, days since surgery, education, and body mass index (BMI) found higher levels of SWB related to less leukocyte pro-inflammatory and pro-metastatic gene expression (p < 0.05). Emotional well-being, physical well-being, and functional well-being did not relate to leukocyte gene expression (p > 0.05). Greater SWB remained significantly associated with less leukocyte pro-inflammatory and pro-metastatic gene expression after controlling for depressive symptoms.


Results have implications for understanding mechanisms linking social resources to health-relevant biological processes in breast cancer patients undergoing primary treatment.

Clinical Trial Registration Number: NCT01422551


Breast cancer Social well-being Social support Inflammation Leukocyte gene expression 



This study was funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health [R01-CA-064710], and the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Compliance with ethical standards

The experiments comply with the current laws of the country in which they were performed.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Devika R. Jutagir
    • 1
  • Bonnie B. Blomberg
    • 2
    • 3
  • Charles S. Carver
    • 1
    • 2
  • Suzanne C. Lechner
    • 2
  • Kiara R. Timpano
    • 1
  • Laura C. Bouchard
    • 1
  • Lisa M. Gudenkauf
    • 1
  • Jamie M. Jacobs
    • 4
  • Alain Diaz
    • 3
  • Susan K. Lutgendorf
    • 5
  • Steve W. Cole
    • 6
  • Aaron S. Heller
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael H. Antoni
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA
  2. 2.Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of Miami Miller School of MedicineMiamiUSA
  3. 3.Department of Microbiology and ImmunologyUniversity of Miami Miller School of MedicineMiamiUSA
  4. 4.The Center for Psychiatric Oncology and Behavioral SciencesMassachusetts General Hospital Cancer CenterBostonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Psychological and Brain SciencesUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  6. 6.Department of MedicineUCLA School of MedicineLos AngelesUSA

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