SUMMARY Ageing is associated with low‐grade inflammation and markers such as IL‐6 possess prognostic value. Tumour necrosis‐alpha (TNF‐α) initiates the inflammatory cascade and has been linked to several age‐associated disorders. It remains, however, unknown if TNF‐α is associated with mortality in old populations. The aim of the present study was to investigate if serum levels of TNF‐α were associated with all‐cause mortality independently of interleukin (IL)‐6 in a prospective study of 333 relatively healthy 80‐year‐old people. A Cox regression model was used to explore effects of TNF‐α and IL‐6 on survival in the following 6 years. A total of 133 participants died during this follow‐up period. TNF‐α was associated with mortality in men, but not in women, whereas low‐grade elevations in IL‐6 were associated strongly with mortality in both sexes. TNF‐α explained only 7% of the variability in IL‐6 and effects of the two cytokines were independent of each other as well as of other traditional risk factors for death (smoking, blood pressure, physical exercise, total cholesterol, co‐morbidity, body mass index (BMI) and intake of anti‐inflammatory drugs). These findings indicate that at least in old populations chronic elevated levels of TNF‐α and IL‐6 have different biological functions that trigger age‐associated pathology and cause mortality.
Clinical & Experimental Immunology – Wiley
Published: Apr 1, 2003
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