Genetic polymorphisms of inflammatory cytokines and myocardial infarction in the elderly

Mech Ageing Dev. 2006 Jun;127(6):552-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2006.01.013. Epub 2006 Mar 6.


Cardiovascular diseases (CVD), such as myocardial infarction (MI), are major causes of disability and mortality in the elderly. The increasing burden of CVD in ageing industrialized populations requires intensive research in order to improve preventive and therapeutic strategies especially in old people and if possible slow the processes of cardiovascular disease generation and progression. Ageing is accompanied by an age-dependent up-regulation of the inflammatory response, due to chronic antigenic stress stimulation, which potentially triggers the onset of inflammatory diseases, especially CVD. However, the exact mechanisms are still poorly understood. Since CVD are caused by interactions between genetic and environmental factors, a possible approach to their prevention is to identify the potential genetic component of inflammatory cardiovascular risk factors, providing the basis for personalized lifestyle modification and improved pharmacological therapy. Some common gene polymorphisms associated with high production of inflammatory molecules have been associated with atherosclerosis. Therefore, controlling inflammation might play a protective role against CVD, especially in ageing. Although a large number of studies of pro- and anti-inflammatory gene variants in association with CVD and MI exists, the emerging data are quite conflicting and do not provide definitive evidence for a role of these polymorphisms in the pathogenesis of MI. In this paper we review the evidence for a possible role of genetic polymorphisms of the most important inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, TNF-alpha, IL-10) and immune receptors (CD14 receptor and TLR-4) in modulating the incidence or the prognosis of MI, with a special focus in ageing population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cytokines / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Myocardial Infarction / genetics*
  • Myocardial Infarction / immunology*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / immunology*


  • Cytokines