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Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2001 Mar;8(2):333-8.

Ageing is associated with a prolonged fever response in human endotoxemia.

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  • 1Department of Infectious Diseases M7641, Laboratory B2014, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 9, 2100 Copenhagen O, Denmark.


The purpose of this study was to investigate whether an age-associated impaired acute-phase response exists. Nine healthy elderly volunteers (median, 66 years; range, 61 to 69 years) and eight young controls (median, 24 years; range, 20 to 27 years) were given an intravenous bolus of endotoxin (2 ng/kg). The rectal temperature was monitored continuously, and blood samples for cytokine measurements were obtained before endotoxin administration as well as 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 4, 8, 12, and 24 h after the injection. The elderly subjects showed a more prolonged fever response compared to the young controls. Levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), soluble TNF receptors (sTNFR-I), interleukin-6 (IL-6), IL-8, IL-10, and IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra) in plasma increased markedly following endotoxin administration in both groups. The elderly group showed larger initial increases in TNF-alpha and sTNFR-I levels and prolonged increased levels of sTNFR-I. Monocyte concentrations decreased in both groups, with the elderly group showing a more rapid decrease and a slower subsequent increase than did the young group. Furthermore, the elderly group had a more rapid increase in C-reactive protein levels than did the young group. In conclusion, ageing is associated with an altered acute-phase response including initial hyperreactivity, prolonged inflammatory activity, and prolonged fever response.

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