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Neurosci Lett. 2006 May 1;398(1-2):118-23. Epub 2006 Jan 19.

Indices of low-grade chronic inflammation correlate with early cognitive deterioration in an elderly Greek population.

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  • 1Laboratory of Biological Chemistry, University of Athens Medical School, M. Asias 75, Goudi 11527, Athens, Greece.


Elevated serum levels of adhesion molecules (AM) reflect low-grade chronic inflammation and have been associated with several conditions of neuronal damage. The aim of the present study was the investigation of possible correlation between early cognitive decline and inflammatory processes in the elderly as indicated by plasma C-reactive protein (CRP) and AM levels. Thirty-seven subjects with dementia were selected from a community-dwelling, genetically isolated, geriatric population (above 60 years of age) based on the Mini Mental State Examination scale (MMSE) and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) criteria. In parallel, a group of 33 age-matched healthy controls were selected from the same population. The levels of CRP (mg/l), sICAM-1 (ng/ml) and sVCAM-1 (ng/ml) were measured in the serum samples of both groups. Serum concentrations of all three molecules sICAM-1, sVCAM-1 and CRP were significantly higher in the dementia group when compared to controls (656.78 +/- 161.51 versus 467.05 +/- 231.26, p < 0.01; 631.64 +/- 149.76 versus 449.04 +/- 285.27, p < 0.01; 1.53 +/- 0.97 versus 0.7221 +/- 0.61, p < 0.01, respectively). Furthermore, a positive correlation was observed between the three molecules studied and the degree of severity of cognitive impairment. The findings of this study enhance the hypothesis of the presence of an underlying inflammatory process leading to cognitive deterioration and predisposing dementia in the elderly. The present work supports the evaluation of inflammatory molecules as early indicators of cognitive decline in elderly individuals.

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