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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2010 Mar;65(3):225-35. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glp210. Epub 2010 Jan 18.

Commonly studied polymorphisms in inflammatory cytokine genes show only minor effects on mortality and related risk factors in nonagenarians.

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The Danish Aging Research Center, Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, J.B. Winsløws Vej 9, DK-5000 Odense, Denmark.


Systemic low-grade inflammation is consistently associated with functional status, cognitive functioning, multimorbidity, and survival in oldest olds. If inflammation is either a cause or a consequence of age-related pathology, genetic determinants of late-life survival can reside in cytokine genes polymorphisms, regulating inflammatory responses. The aim of this study was to test associations between commonly studied polymorphisms in interleukin (IL)6, IL10, IL15, and IL18, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha genes and late-life survival in a longitudinal cohort of nonagenarians: the Danish 1905 cohort. Additionally, associations were investigated between inflammatory markers and major predictors of mortality as cognitive and functional status. Modest sex-specific associations were found with survival, cognitive functioning, and handgrip strength. Evaluation of combined genotypes indicated that, in nonagenarian men, the balance of pro- and anti-inflammatory activity at IL18 and IL10 loci is protective against cognitive decline. In conclusion, in this large study with virtually complete follow-up, commonly studied polymorphisms in cytokine genes do not have a major impact on late-life survival or associated risk phenotypes.

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