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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2013 Aug;61(8):1269-76. doi: 10.1111/jgs.12382. Epub 2013 Jul 26.

Long-term variability of inflammatory markers and associated factors in a population-based cohort.

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Department of Population Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53726, USA.



To investigate long-term variability in serum high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) and to determine associated risk factors for high-risk inflammatory profiles.


Prospective population-based cohort study.


Participants (N = 1,443) of the Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study and the Beaver Dam Eye Study, two population-based prospective studies of aging in the same cohort.


In participants aged 43 to 79 at the initial examination (1988-1990), serum high-sensitivity CRP was measured from three time-points (1988-1990, 1998-2000, 2009-2010), and serum IL-6 was measured from two (1998-2000, 2009-2010).


When IL-6 levels were categorized into tertiles, 50.8% of participants were in the same group 10 years later (weighted kappa (κ) = 0.34). When CRP was categorized into three risk groups, 53.4% of participants were in the same group 10 years later (κ = 0.36), and 32.4% were in the same group at all three examinations (κ = 0.27). IL-6 increased from a geometric mean of 1.54 pg/L to 1.78 pg/L over 10 years, whereas CRP increased from a geometric mean of 1.67 mg/L to 2.25 mg/L over 10 years and then decreased to 1.93 mg/L over the next 10 years. These 10-year decreases in CRP were not observed in those not reporting statin use. Factors associated with long-term higher levels of IL-6 and CRP were older age (IL-6), obesity, smoking, lower physical activity (IL-6), lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (IL-6), and a history of statin (non)use (CRP).


Inflammatory marker levels tracked over the long term into older age with within-person increases were observed. Several potentially modifiable risk factors were associated with long-term higher levels of inflammatory markers.


aging; inflammation; long-term variability

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