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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2014 Feb;69(2):174-81. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glt088. Epub 2013 Jun 28.

Do changes in circulating biomarkers track with each other and with functional changes in older adults?

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Bellefield Professional Building 4th Floor, 130 North Bellefield Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.



It is unclear if changes in proposed circulating biomarkers of aging are strongly correlated to each other or functional change. We tested if biomarker changes track with each other and with functional measures over 9 years in older adults.


Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), adiponectin, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), IGF binding proteins 1 (IGFBP-1) and 3 (IGFBP-3), interleukin-6 (IL-6), cholesterol, and function (gait speed, grip strength, Modified Mini Mental Status Exam [3MSE] and Digit Symbol Substitution Test [DSST] scores) were measured in 1996-1997 and 2005-2006 in the Cardiovascular Health Study All Stars study (N = 901, mean [standard deviation, SD] age 85.3 [3.6] years in 2005-2006). Adjusted Pearson correlations illustrated if biomarkers tracked together. Multivariable linear regression demonstrated if biomarker changes tracked with functional changes.


Correlations among biomarker changes were mostly <0.2. In models with each biomarker entered separately, a 1-SD increase biomarker change was associated with change in function as follows: grip strength (DHEAS β = 0.61kg, p = .001; IL-6 β = -0.46kg, p = .012; cholesterol men β = 0.79kg, p = .016); gait speed (DHEAS β = 0.02 meters per second, p = .039; IL-6 β = -0.018 meters per second, p = .049); and DSST score (DHEAS women β = 1.46, p = .004; IL-6 β = -0.83, p = .027). When biomarkers were entered in the same model, significant associations remaining were as follows: grip strength (DHEAS β = 0.54kg, p = .005; IL-6 β = -0.43kg, p = .022); 3MSE score (IGF-1 β = 0.96, p = .04; IGFBP-3 β = -1.07, p = .024); and DSST score (DHEAS women β = 1.27, p = .012; IL-6 β = -0.80, p = .04).


Changes in biomarkers were poorly correlated, supporting a model of stochastic, independent change across systems. DHEAS and IL-6 tracked most closely with function, illustrating that changes in inflammation and sex steroids may play dominant roles in changes of these functional outcomes.


Biomarkers; Epidemiology; Functional performance; Inflammation; Longevity

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