September 17, 2013
1 min read

Low IL-6 levels may promote 'successful aging'

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Low interleukin-6 levels may promote successful aging by reducing the risk for developing impaired respiratory, musculoskeletal functioning and diabetes, data from a recent study indicate.

“There is increasing evidence that interleukin-6 is the proinflammatory cytokine that ‘drives’ downstream inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein and fibrinogen,” study researcher Tasnime N. Akbaraly, PhD, of the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale in Paris, and colleagues wrote. “We showed that having chronically high levels of interleukin-6 halved the odds of successful aging 10 years later and was associated with increased odds of future cardiovascular disease and death from noncardiovascular causes in a dose-response fashion.”

The researchers collected data from the Whitehall 2 study cohort, which first began in 1985. They examined inflammatory markers twice during a 5-year exposure period to better understand the link between chronic inflammation and successful aging phenotypes (ie, free of major chronic disease and with good physical, mental and cognitive functioning), or incident fatal or nonfatal CVD.

According to data, 721 (23.7%) of the 3,044 middle-aged adults (28.2% women) fit the criteria for successful aging at the 10-year follow-up. In addition, 321 (10.6%) patients had CVD events, 147 (4.8%) died of non-CV causes and 1,855 (60.9%) were classified in the normal aging phenotype.

High IL-6 levels (>2 ng/L) twice during a 5-year time period were associated with poor aging at the 10-year follow-up (OR=0.53; 95% CI, 0.38-0.74). These high levels were also associated with increased risk for future CV events (OR=1.64; 95% CI, 1.15-2.33) and non-CV deaths (OR=2.43; 95% CI, 1.58-3.8), researchers wrote.

“If confirmed, these results shed new light on the importance of assessing long-term chronic inflammation in geriatric clinical practice, not only to target individuals at risk of unhealthy aging but also to promote ideal health by managing long-term chronic inflammation,” researchers wrote.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.