To identify molecular mechanisms underlying the prospective health advantages associated with psychological well-being, we analyzed leukocyte basal gene expression profiles in 80 healthy adults who were assessed for hedonic and eudaimonic well-being, as well as potentially confounded negative psychological and behavioral factors. Hedonic and eudaimonic well-being showed similar affective correlates but highly divergent tranome profiles. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from people with high levels of hedonic well-being showed up-regulated expression of a stress-related conserved tranional response to adversity (CTRA) involving increased expression of proinflammatory genes and decreased expression of genes involved in antibody synthesis and type I IFN response. In contrast, high levels of eudaimonic well-being were associated with CTRA down-regulation. Promoter-based bioinformatics implicated distinct patterns of tranion factor activity in structuring the observed differences in gene expression associated with eudaimonic well-being (reduced NF-κB and AP-1 signaling and increased IRF and STAT signaling). Tran origin analysis identified monocytes, plasmacytoid dendritic cells, and B lymphocytes as primary cellular mediators of these dynamics. The finding that hedonic and eudaimonic well-being engage distinct gene regulatory programs despite their similar effects on total well-being and depressive symptoms implies that the human genome may be more sensitive to qualitative variations in well-being than are our conscious affective experiences.
Fredrickson, B. L., Grewen, K. M., Coffey, K. A., Algoe, S. B., Firestine, A. M., Arevalo, J. M., … &Cole, S. W. (2013). A functional genomic perspective on human well-being. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(33), 13684-13689.