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Project 4 - Biomarker Project


The Biomarker study is Project 4 of the MIDUS longitudinal study, a national survey of more than 7,000 Americans (aged 25 to 74) begun in 1994. The purpose of the larger study was to investigate the role of behavioral, psychological, and social factors in understanding age-related differences in physical and mental health. With support from the National Institute on Aging, a longitudinal follow-up of the original MIDUS samples [core sample (n = 3,487), metropolitan over-samples (n = 757), twins (n = 957 pairs), and siblings (n = 950)] was conducted in 2004-2006. Guiding hypotheses, at the most general level, were that behavioral and psychosocial factors are consequential for health (physical and mental).

The Biomarker Project of MIDUS 2 contains data from 1,255 respondents. These respondents include two distinct subsamples, all of whom completed the Project 1 Survey: (1) longitudinal survey sample (n = 1,054) and (2) Milwaukee sample (n = 201). The Milwaukee group contained individuals who participated in the baseline MIDUS Milwaukee study, initiated in 2005. The purpose of the Biomarker Project was to add comprehensive biological assessments on a subsample of MIDUS respondents, thus facilitating analyses that integrate behavioral and psychosocial factors with biology. The broad aim is to identify biopsychosocial pathways that contribute to diverse health outcomes. A further theme is to investigate protective roles that behavioral and psychosocial factors have in delaying morbidity and mortality, or in fostering resilience and recovery from health challenges once they occur. The research was not disease-specific, given that psychosocial factors have relevance across multiple health endpoints. Biomarker data collection was carried out at three General Clinical Research Centers (at UCLA, University of Wisconsin, and Georgetown University). The biomarkers reflect functioning of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, the autonomic nervous system, the immune system, cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system, antioxidants, and metabolic processes. Our specimens (fasting blood draw, 12-hour urine, saliva) allow for assessment of multiple indicators within these major systems. The protocol also included assessments by clinicians or trained staff, including vital signs, morphology, functional capacities, bone densitometry, medication usage, and a physical exam. Project staff obtained indicators of heart-rate variability, beat to beat blood pressure, respiration, and salivary cortisol assessments during an experimental protocol that included both a cognitive and orthostatic challenge. Finally, to augment the self-reported data collected in Project 1, participants completed a medical history, self-administered questionnaire, and self-reported sleep assessments. For respondents at one site (UW-Madison), objective sleep assessments were also obtained with an Actiwatch activity monitor.

Project 4 Documentation

©2011 University of Wisconsin - Madison, Institute on Aging