Rationale: Elevated proinflammatory cytokines are associated with severity of pneumonia, but the role of preinfection cytokine levels in the predisposition to pneumonia in humans is less clear.
Objective: To ascertain role of preinfection inflammatory markers on susceptibility to community-acquired pneumonia (CAP).
Methods: Longitudinal analysis over 6.5 yr of a cohort that consisted of 70- to 79-yr-old well-functioning elderly individuals.
Measurements: Association between preinfection tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin 6 (IL-6), and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels and CAP requiring hospitalization.
Results: Of the 3,075 participants, 161 (5.2%) developed at least one episode of CAP requiring hospitalization over a median duration of 3.3 yr. The highest tertiles of TNF (> 3.7 pg/ml) and IL-6 (> 2.4 pg/ml) were associated with increased risk of CAP, and the adjusted odds ratios were 1.6 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.02-2.7) and 1.7 (95% CI, 1.1-2.8), respectively. The adjusted risk of CAP with at least one of these markers in the highest tertile was 1.6 (95% CI, 1.1-2.3). TNF and IL-6 levels in the highest tertile had a synergistic effect (p = 0.01 for interaction), and risk of CAP for both markers in the highest tertile was 2.8 (95% CI, 1.8-4.3). An FEV(1) of 50% or less of predicted was associated with the highest risk of CAP (adjusted odds ratio, 3.6; 95% CI, 2.3-5.6). Furthermore, TNF and IL-6 levels modified risk of CAP in participants with coexisting medical conditions and history of smoking.
Conclusion: In the well-functioning elderly subjects, preinfection systemic levels of TNF and IL-6 were associated with higher risk of CAP requiring hospitalization in smokers and those with coexisting medical conditions.