Publications by authors named "Larry Keen"

19 Publications

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Assessing the validity of the Self-Report Webexec Questionnaire: Self-report vs performance neurocognitive inferences.

Appl Neuropsychol Adult 2020 Dec 1:1-9. Epub 2020 Dec 1.

Department of Psychology, Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA, USA.

The Webexec is a self-reported neuropsychological measure, which previous research suggests is associated with personality and executive functions. Though the Webexec could be useful for brief neuropsychological assessment, there is limited literature examining its validity. The current study's purpose was to determine Webexec's validity and association with mood symptomatology in two Historically Black College or University (HBCU) undergraduate student samples. Study 1 employed a neurocognitive battery for convergent validity testing, while the second study utilized psychological measures to determine the Webexec's association with mood-based symptomatology. Study 1 included 149 participants, with a mean age of 20.08 (SD = 1.75) years. Participants completed a demographic questionnaire, the Webexec, and a neuropsychological battery. The neuropsychological battery measured verbal fluency, visual scanning, and working memory. The Webexec was positively associated with working memory ( = 0.18,  = 0.03), but no other neuropsychological measures. Study 2 utilized an online survey with 799 HBCU participants. Results suggest Webexec was associated with depressive symptomatology ( = 0.41,  = 0.01), anxiety symptomatology ( = 0.39,  = 0.01), and impulsivity ( = 0.21,  = 0.01). Taken together, results from both studies suggest the Webexec is not consistently associated with performance measures of executive function and maybe more consistent with self-reported psychological symptoms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23279095.2020.1843041DOI Listing
December 2020

Clinical features and outcomes between African American and Caucasian patients with Takotsubo Syndrome.

Minerva Cardioangiol 2021 Jan 11. Epub 2021 Jan 11.

Pauley Heart Center, Virginia Commonwealth University Hospital, Richmond, VA, USA.

Background: Takotsubo syndrome (TS) is an acute, reversible form of heart failure, often mimicking an acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Data regarding racial differences in TS are inconsistent. The aim is to assess clinical features associated with unfavorable in-hospital outcomes between African American (AA) and Caucasian (CAU) patients.

Methods: A retrospective electronic health record query identified 44 AA patients and 110 CAU patients with a diagnosis of TS. Our primary outcome was a composite of death, stroke, and cardiogenic shock during hospitalization. Variables associated with an increased risk of the primary composite outcomes were included in a logistic regression model.

Results: Compared to CAU patients, AA patients were a more comorbid population, and presented a higher prevalence of history of illicit drug use (27.3% vs 13.6% p=0.044). There were no significant differences regarding in-hospital complication rates between AA and CAU patients. In the logistic regression model, infection was associated with greater risk of developing the primary outcome in AA patients (OR=7.26 95% CI [1.22-43.17], p=0.029), whereas angina was a protective factor (OR=0.11 95% CI [0.02-0.65], p=0.015). In CAU patients, severely depressed ejection fraction and worse peak creatinine during hospitalization increased risk of developing the primary outcome (OR=5.88 95% CI [2.01-17.17], p<0.001 and OR=1.64 95% CI [1.15-2.58], p=0.031, respectively). Meanwhile, emotional stressors were protective (OR=0.16 95% CI [0.03-0.88], p=0.004).

Conclusions: Despite experiencing the same rate of in-hospital complications, the clinical profiles of AA patients are distinct from CAU patients admitted for TS, and clinical variables correlated with worse in-hospital outcomes also differ by race.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.23736/S0026-4725.20.05456-0DOI Listing
January 2021

Differences in heart rate among recent marijuana use groups.

Minerva Cardioangiol 2020 Sep 29. Epub 2020 Sep 29.

Division of Cardiology, Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center, Richmond, VA, USA.

Background: Marijuana use increases cardiac sympathetic activity within minutes of its use and this effect may begin to decrease as soon as one hour after marijuana use. However, the cardiovascular effects of marijuana use more than an hour after use is poorly characterized. The purpose of the current study is to compare heart rate, a marker of cardiac sympathetic activity, across recent marijuana use groups (never used=63; recent use [in the past 24 hours; subacute] = 13; in the past 7 days, but not in the past 24 hours = 17). Overall, the current sample included 93 African American/Black college students, with a mean age of 20.03 (SD = 2.21).

Methods: Participants completed a demographic form, a brief battery of psychological questionnaires, and had their heart rate assessed at baseline.

Results: Analysis of covariance showed that heart rate was statistically significantly lower in the recent use group (M = 62.38) compared with the non-users group (M = 73.92). This difference persisted before and after statistically adjusting for demographic covariates.

Conclusions: These results suggest that there may be a cardiovascular process that occurs when using marijuana that results in a compensatory, reduced heart rate.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.23736/S0026-4725.20.05239-1DOI Listing
September 2020

Inverse associations between parasympathetic activity and cognitive flexibility in African Americans: Preliminary findings.

Int J Psychophysiol 2020 09 28;155:204-209. Epub 2020 Jun 28.

Pauley Heart Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, United States of America. Electronic address:

Previous research suggests that vagal activity and executive function (EF) are positively associated. However, existing data exploring the relationship between HRV and EF remains limited. Though Blacks may have higher HRV, they remain underrepresented in previous research examining HRV and EF. The current study aimed to determine the relationship between EF and HRV in a sample of 92 Black undergraduates (Mean age = 20.32, SD = 2.28). Participants wore an 6‑lead ambulatory electrocardiographic impedance monitoring system to obtain the root mean square of interbeat interval differences (rMSSD) and Cardiac Sympathetic Index. After baseline autonomic activity assessment, participants completed the Berg Card Sorting Test. Utilizing hierarchical regression analyses, HRV was negatively associated with correct responses (Beta = -0.40, SE = 0.04, p=0.01) and categories experienced (Beta = -0.37, SE = 0.01, p=0.01), and positively associated with total errors (Beta = 0.39, SE =0.04, p=0.01). To further elucidate these findings, participants were assigned to coinhibition (n = 12), parasympathetically dominant (n = 34), sympathetically dominant (n = 35), or coactivation (n = 11) autonomic space subgroups. Participants in the sympathetically dominant subgroup completed more categories (M = 6.86, SD = 2.13) and committed fewer errors (M = 30.63, SD = 11.53) than their parasympathetic counterparts (M = 5.74, SD = 2.44; M = 43.29, SD = 18.83, respectively). This study suggests that a state of sympathetic arousal immediately prior to the administration of an EF task, may aid in better task performance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2020.06.013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7438243PMC
September 2020

Heart Rate Variability as a Link Between Brain-Elicited Substance Cues and Substance Use Severity.

Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging 2020 06;5(6):560-561

C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia; Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia. Electronic address:

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bpsc.2020.04.010DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7990298PMC
June 2020

Retraction notice to Confirmed Marijuana Use and Lymphocyte Count in Black People Living with HIV [DAD 180 (2017) 22 - 25].

Drug Alcohol Depend 2019 May;198:199

University of Florida Center for AIDS/HIV Research, Service, and Education University of Florida, United States.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.03.001DOI Listing
May 2019

Confirmed marijuana use and lymphocyte count in black people living with HIV.

Drug Alcohol Depend 2019 05 18;198:112-115. Epub 2019 Mar 18.

University of Florida Center for AIDS/HIV Research, Service, and Education University of Florida, United States.

Background: Marijuana is a commonly used recreational substance with purported analgesic and mood enhancing properties. Many people living with HIV identify marijuana as a palliative substance. However, through its main psychoactive component, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is known to influence the immune system. The effects of marijuana use in people with HIV are still controversial, with very scant literature in Black adults.

Methods: The current study determined the differences in the lymphocyte count, specifically the number cluster differentiation 4 and 8 (CD4+ and CD8+), among patients who urine drug tested negative for THC (n = 70) and those who tested positive for THC (n = 25). The sample included 95 Black people living with HIV, 51% female, with a mean age of 46 ± 11 years. Participants provided a urine sample for substance use testing and a trained researcher extracted clinical data from clinical charts on the day of appointment.

Results: After adjusting for demographic and HIV-related covariates, THC-positive patients had significantly higher CD4+ and CD8+ counts than their THC-negative counterparts.

Conclusion: These results extend previous HIV-related immunity findings in an underrepresented group, and suggest that THC use does not reduce immune function as measured by CD count. Further research is warranted on the overall effects of THC on immune function in HIV positive patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.11.018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7250156PMC
May 2019

Self-Reported Lifetime Violence Exposure and Self-Compassion Associated With Satisfaction of Life in Historically Black College and University Students.

J Interpers Violence 2021 May 10;36(9-10):4717-4734. Epub 2018 Aug 10.

Virginia State University, Petersburg, USA.

In the United States, approximately 25% of minors have witnessed a violent act, specifically physical assault. African Americans from under-served backgrounds are more likely than other racial and ethnic groups to be exposed to traumatic events. However, there is scant literature examining violence exposure, SC, and life satisfaction collectively, specifically in an African American college sample. The current study sought to determine the associations among violence exposure, SC components, and life satisfaction in an African American college sample. The current sample was comprised of 356 participants (80% female) with a mean age of 20.23 (SD = 1.70). Eighty-eight participants (25%) reported being exposed to violence in their lifetime. Employing logistic regression, we determined violence exposed individuals were less likely to report high satisfaction of life than their non-exposed counterparts (OR = 0.58, 95% CIs = 0.33, 1.00). Individuals with high level of self-kindness were approximately two times more likely to have higher satisfaction of life (OR = 2.48; CI = 1.52, 4.05) compared to their low level self-kindness counterparts and in the presence of demographic covariates. These findings may educate and increase awareness of the impacts of traumatic events. This education could lead to the implementation of interventions to build upon overall well-being in order increase life satisfaction in college students.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0886260518791596DOI Listing
May 2021

Confirmed marijuana use and lymphocyte count in black people living with HIV.

Drug Alcohol Depend 2017 11 16;180:22-25. Epub 2017 Aug 16.

University of Florida Center for AIDS/HIV Research, Service, and Education University of Florida, United States.

Background: Marijuana is a commonly used recreational substance with purported analgesic and mood enhancing properties. Many people living with HIV identify marijuana as a palliative substance. However, through its main psychoactive component, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is known to influence the immune system. The effects of marijuana use in people with HIV are still controversial, with very scant literature in Black adults.

Methods: The current study determined the differences in the lymphocyte count, specifically the number cluster differentiation 4 and 8 (CD4+ and CD8+), among patients who urine drug tested negative for THC (n=70) and those who tested positive for THC (n=25). The sample included 95 Black people living with HIV, 51% female, with a mean age of 46±11years. Participants provided a urine sample for substance use testing and a trained researcher extracted clinical data from clinical charts on the day of appointment.

Results: After adjusting for demographic and HIV-related covariates, THC-positive patients had significantly higher CD4+ and CD8+ counts than their THC-negative counterparts.

Conclusion: These results extend previous HIV-related immunity findings in an underrepresented group, and suggest that THC use does not reduce immune function as measured by CD count. Further research is warranted on the overall effects of THC on immune function in HIV positive patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.07.026DOI Listing
November 2017

Patterns of Mood and Personality Factors and Associations With STI/HIV-Related Drug and Sex Risk Among African American Male Inmates.

Subst Use Misuse 2017 06 22;52(7):929-938. Epub 2017 Feb 22.

a Department of Population Health , New York University School of Medicine , New York , New York , USA.

Background: Research on the association between antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) with comorbid mental disorders and sexually transmitted infection (STI)/HIV risk among inmates is scant despite the high prevalence of psychopathology and of STI/HIV in this population.

Methods: We used baseline data from Project DISRUPT, a cohort study conducted among incarcerated African American men (n = 207), to measure associations between ASPD and STI/HIV risk. We also conducted latent class analyses (LCAs) to identify subgroups defined by ASPD with comorbid stress, depression, and borderline personality disorder symptoms and measured associations between latent class membership and STI/HIV risk.

Results: Approximately 15% had ASPD and 39% reported depression. Controlling for sociodemographics, stress, and depression, ASPD was independently associated with illicit [AOR = 3.23, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.18-8.87] and injection drug use (AOR: 5.49, 95% CI: 1.23-24.42) but not with sexual risk. LCAs suggested that those at high risk of ASPD were likely to experience co-morbid mental disorders. ASPD comorbid with these disorders was linked to drug and sex risk.

Conclusions: STI/HIV prevention for inmates should incorporate diagnosis and treatment of ASPD and comorbid disorders, and interventions to address ASPD-related factors (e.g., impulsivity) that drive STI/HIV risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2016.1267221DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5908473PMC
June 2017

Lifetime marijuana use and sexually transmitted infection history in a sample of Black college students.

Addict Behav 2016 09 26;60:203-8. Epub 2016 Apr 26.

Department of Psychology, Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA, United States; Department of Family and Consumer Science, Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA, United States.

Background: Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and marijuana use are more prevalent in African Americans/Blacks (Blacks) than any other ethnicity in the United States. Given the significant health care costs and deleterious health correlates of using marijuana or contracting a STI, it is imperative to examine their association, especially in the vulnerable and underrepresented group of young adult Blacks.

Purpose: The current study examines the association between lifetime marijuana use on history of STI diagnosis in a sample of Black college students.

Results: Approximately 81% of the 213 participants were female, with approximately 81% also being 21years of age or younger. Alcohol (88%) led the prevalence of substances ever used, followed by marijuana (75%), and cigarettes (57%). When including demographic and substance use covariates, lifetime marijuana use (AOR=2.51; 95% CIs, 1.01, 6.21) and age (AOR=2.72; 95% CIs, 1.32, 5.64) were associated with history of STI.

Conclusion: These findings will inform intervention and prevention methods used to reduce STI prevalence and marijuana use among Black young adults. Both epidemiological and biological foundations will be discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.04.012DOI Listing
September 2016

Depressive symptomatology and respiratory sinus arrhythmia in a non-clinical sample of middle-aged African Americans.

Biol Psychol 2015 May 18;108:56-61. Epub 2015 Mar 18.

Howard University, Department of Psychology, Washington, DC, United States. Electronic address:

Decreased heart rate variability and depression are both independent risk factors for cardiac mortality in clinical and non-clinical samples. The purpose of the current study is to examine the hypothesis that severity of depressive symptomatology is inversely associated with respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) in a non-clinical sample of African Americans. The sample included 77 African Americans with a mean age of 48.4 (SD = 11.7). Participants completed the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) and a 5-min resting baseline measurement of RSA was collected. The BDI-II total score was positively associated with RSA (β = .334, p = .008). Given the unexpected direction of the association, we separated the BDI-II into cognitive and somatic affective subscales to identify which construct was driving the relationship. The somatic affective, was related to RSA (β = .328, p = .010), but not the cognitive subscale. Given this unexpected positive result, future research should further examine the nature of the relationship between depressive symptomatology and RSA in African Americans, as the relationship may vary based on levels of depressive symptomatology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2015.03.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4426063PMC
May 2015

Differential effects of self-reported lifetime marijuana use on interleukin-1 alpha and tumor necrosis factor in African American adults.

J Behav Med 2015 Jun 3;38(3):527-34. Epub 2015 Mar 3.

Department of Psychology, Virginia State University, 1 Hayden Drive, PO Box 9079, Petersburg, VA, 23806, USA,

It is unknown how lifetime marijuana use affects different proinflammatory cytokines. The purpose of the current study is to explore potential differential effects of lifetime marijuana use on interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1α) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in a community based sample. Participants included 168 African American adults (51 % female, median age = 47 years). Upon study entry, blood was drawn and the participants completed questions regarding illicit drug use history whose answers were used to create three groups: lifetime non-drug users (n = 77), lifetime marijuana only users (n = 46) and lifetime marijuana and other drug users (n = 45). In the presence of demographic and physiological covariates, non-drug users were approximately two times more likely (AOR 2.73, CI 1.18, 6.31; p = .03) to have higher TNF levels than marijuana only users. Drug use was not associated with IL-1α. The influence of marijuana may be selective in nature, potentially localizing around innate immunity and the induction of cellular death.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10865-015-9625-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425573PMC
June 2015

Association between interleukin-6 and neurocognitive performance as a function of self-reported lifetime marijuana use in a community based sample of African American adults.

J Int Neuropsychol Soc 2014 Sep;20(8):773-83

2Center of Excellence on Disparities in HIV and Aging,Rush University Medical Center,Chicago,Illinois.

The purpose of the current study was to determine if self-reported lifetime marijuana use moderates the relationship between interleukin-6 (IL-6) and neurocognitive performance. Participants included 161 African American adults (50.3% women), with a mean age of 45.24 (SD=11.34). Serum was drawn upon entry into the study and participants completed a demographic questionnaire, which included drug use history, and a battery of neuropsychological tests. Using multiple regression analyses and adjusting for demographic covariates, the interaction term comprised of IL-6 and self-reported lifetime marijuana use was significantly associated with poorer performance on the Written (β=-.116; SE=.059; p=.049) and Oral trials (β=-.143; SE=.062; p=.022) of the Symbol Digit Modalities Test, as well as the Trail Making Test trial A (β=.157; SE=.071; p=.028). Current findings support previous literature, which presents the inverse relationship between IL-6 and neurocognitive dysfunction. The potential protective properties of marijuana use in African Americans, who are at increased risk for inflammatory diseases, are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1355617714000691DOI Listing
September 2014

Younger versus older African Americans: patterns and prevalence of recent illicit drug use.

J Ethn Subst Abuse 2014 ;13(2):126-38

a University of Florida , Gainesville , Florida.

Objectives: The current study examined recent substance use among younger and older African Americans and factors associated with recent use.

Methods: The current study used a subset of African American men and women (N = 260) from the NEURO-HIV Epidemiological Study (Mage = 42, SD = 9.27; 59% female). Self-report of past 6 month substance use was evaluated for 21 different substances by routes of administration (ROA).

Results: Older adults were 1.9 times (AOR = 1.92, 95% CI = 1.13-3.26) more likely to have used crack in the past 6 months and half as likely to have used marijuana (AOR = .44, 95% CI = .25-.77). There were no significant differences for heroin use.

Discussion: Substance use at midlife may have significant implications for adverse social and health outcomes among African Americans. Findings support the need to better understand the developmental pathways of drug use and dependence among African Americans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15332640.2014.883581DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6941412PMC
January 2015

Binge drinking, stimulant use and HIV risk in a sample of illicit drug using heterosexual Black men.

Addict Behav 2014 Sep 13;39(9):1342-5. Epub 2014 Apr 13.

Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida, United States.

Background: Relatively little research has examined the effects of binge drinking and HIV risk in heterosexual Black men. Even less research has explored this relationship in illicit drug using heterosexual Black men who are at an elevated risk of contracting and transmitting HIV through various vectors, including risky sexual behavior, in the Black community.

Purpose: The purpose of the current study is to examine the associations between binge drinking, drug use and HIV status in a community-based sample of 127 self-identified heterosexual Black men.

Results: Overall, 17% reported binge drinking in the past month. Both stimulant use (AOR 7.29; 95%; CIs, 2.07, 25.70), and binge drinking (AOR=5.28; 95% CIs, 1.34, 20.91) were associated with HIV status.

Conclusion: These findings will inform prevention interventions to reduce the HIV risk among Black heterosexual men.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2014.04.006DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4090766PMC
September 2014

Injection and non-injection drug use and infectious disease in Baltimore City: differences by race.

Addict Behav 2014 Sep 5;39(9):1325-8. Epub 2014 May 5.

Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida, United States.

Purpose: The current study examines differences in the prevalence of biologically-confirmed hepatitis C virus (HCV), HIV, and coinfection between Black and White adult cocaine/heroin users across three drug use subgroups identified in previous research (Harrell et al., 2012): non-injection smoking crack/nasal heroin users, heroin injectors, and polydrug injectors.

Results: 59% of the 482 participants in the study were male. Significant race differences emerged between drug use subgroup memberships. Non-injection smoking crack/nasal heroin users were predominantly Black (75%), while heroin injectors and polydrug injectors were predominantly White (69% and 72%, respectively). Polydrug injectors accounted for nearly three quarters of the HCV positive diagnoses in Whites. Though HIV disease status, stratified by race, did not differ significantly between drug use subgroups, the non-injection smoking crack/nasal heroin subgroup contained over half of the HIV positive diagnoses in the sample and was predominantly Black. Despite much lower rates of injection, Blacks (8%) had a higher prevalence of coinfection than Whites (3%; X(2) (2)=6.18, p=.015).

Conclusions: The current findings are consistent with trends in the recent HIV transmission statistics where sexual activity has overtaken injection drug use as a HIV risk factor. The current findings also provide further support to the notion of injection drug use as an exceedingly high-risk behavior for HCV and coinfection, specifically those who are polysubstance injectors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2014.04.020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4078397PMC
September 2014

Self-reported lifetime marijuana use and interleukin-6 levels in middle-aged African Americans.

Drug Alcohol Depend 2014 Jul 26;140:156-60. Epub 2014 Apr 26.

Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida, United States. Electronic address:

Background: Research examining the relationship between marijuana and cytokine function has been well developed in the biochemical literature. However, scant literature exists regarding this relationship between inflammatory markers and marijuana use in public health or behavioral studies and is virtually nonexistent in non-neurologically compromised African American samples.

Methods: The current study examined the differences in serum interleukin-6 (IL-6), a proinflammatory cytokine, between non-drug users (n=78), marijuana only users (n=46) and marijuana plus other drugs users (n=45) in a community-based sample of middle aged African Americans. Participants included 169 African American adults (50.30% female), with a mean age of 45.68 years (SD=11.72 years) from the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Serum was drawn upon entry into the study and the participants completed a demographic questionnaire, which included questions regarding drug use history.

Results: After adjusting for demographic and physiological covariates, analysis of covariance revealed a significant difference between the three groups, F(2,158)=3.08, p=0.04). Post hoc analyses revealed lifetime marijuana only users had significantly lower IL-6 levels (M=2.20 pg/mL, SD=1.93) than their lifetime nonuser counterparts (M=3.73 pg/mL, SD=6.28). No other comparisons among the groups were statistically significantly different.

Conclusion: The current findings extend previous cellular and biochemical literature, which identifies an inverse association between IL-6 and marijuana use. Examining this relationship in the psychological and behavioral literature could be informative to the development of clinical interventions for inflammatory diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2014.04.011DOI Listing
July 2014

The influence of coping with perceived racism and stress on lipid levels in African Americans.

J Natl Med Assoc 2011 Jul;103(7):594-601

Department of Psychology, Howard University, Washington, DC 20059, USA.

Background: Lipid dysregulation is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and is attributed to numerous biological, psychosocial, and behavioral risk factors. Psychological stress has been examined as a predictor of lipid dysregulation; however, the role of coping with perceived racism, a stressor unique to the African American experience, has not been addressed. The current study sought to determine the impact of behavioral coping responses to perceived racism and perceived daily stress on lipid levels in African Americans.

Methods: The sample consisted of 122 African American participants who resided in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. Data were collected as part of an ongoing study entitled Stress and Psychoneuroimmunological Factors in Renal Health and Disease at Howard University Hospital.

Results: Through canonical analysis, distinct profiles of African American lipid function emerged with body mass index, age, and behavioral coping responses to perceived racism being associated with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), respectively. Results from linear regression analyses showed that greater endorsement of behavioral coping responses to perceived racism items predicted higher levels of LDL (B = .24, p < .05). This relationship was not mediated by pathophysiological mechanisms associated with the stress response system such as cortisol, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and IL-6.

Conclusion: The relationship between elevated levels of LDL and behavioral coping responses to perceived racism suggests that African Americans may be at increased risk for CVD due to the unique stress encountered by racism in our culture. Behavioral pathways used to counteract the negative effects of perceived discrimination may better explain this relationship. Further research is necessary to determine other biobehavioral and pathophysiological mechanisms that explain this relationship.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5003038PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0027-9684(15)30385-0DOI Listing
July 2011