Within subject rise in serum TNFα to IL-10 ratio is associated with poorer attention, decision-making and working memory in jockeys

Stefan Piantella, William T. O'Brien, Matthew W. Hale, Paul Maruff, Stuart J. McDonald, Bradley J. Wright

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Jockeys work in high-risk environments that rely heavily on attention- and decision-making to perform well and safely. Workplace stress literature has often overlooked the impact of stress on cognition, and designs that include physiological measures are rare. This study assessed the prospective concurrent relationships between workplace stress, depression symptoms and low-grade inflammation with cognitive performance among professional jockeys. Professional jockeys (N = 35, Mage = 32.29) provided information on workplace stress and depression symptoms, with serum levels of inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-10, TNFα) and cytokine balance (IL-6: IL-10, TNFα: IL-10) quantified with SIMOA, and cognitive performance with CogSport computer-based testing battery. These measures were repeated after a twelve-month interval. Increased workplace stress between testing intervals was associated to an increased cytokine imbalance (β = 0.447, p = .015) after controlling for age and gender. Increases in cytokine imbalance occurred in unison with decreases in attention (β = 0.516, p = .002), decision-making (β = 0.452, p = .009) and working memory (β = 0.492, p = .004). These preliminary findings suggest the underlying mechanisms linking workplace stress and reduced cognitive performance may be influenced by measures of low-grade inflammation and specifically a cytokine imbalance. Our findings suggest a measure of cytokine balance may explain the heterogenous findings in previous studies that have focussed solely on the association of workplace stress with pro-inflammatory cytokines. Future work is needed however, to provide a broader evidence-base for our claims to better inform designs to intervene in the higher workplace stress-poorer cognition relationship.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100131
Number of pages7
JournalComprehensive Psychoneuroendocrinology
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Cognition
  • CogSport
  • CRP
  • Effort-reward imbalance
  • Inflammation
  • Longitudinal

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