Objective: This study aimed to examine the expression patterns of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines in elderly patients with and without delirium who were acutely admitted to the hospital.
Methods: All consecutive patients aged 65 years and older, who were acutely admitted to the Department of Internal Medicine of the Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, a tertiary university teaching hospital, were invited. Members of the geriatric consultation team completed a multidisciplinary evaluation for all study participants within 48 h after admission, including cognitive and functional examination by validated measures of delirium, memory, and executive function. C-reactive protein and cytokines (IL-1beta, IL-6, TNF-alpha, IL-8, and IL-10) were determined within 3 days after admission.
Results: In total, 185 patients were included; mean age was 79 years; 42% were male; and 34.6% developed delirium within 48 h after admission. Compared to patients without delirium, patients with delirium were older and had experienced preexistent cognitive impairment more often. In patients with delirium, significantly more IL-6 levels (53% vs. 31%) and IL-8 levels (45% vs. 22%) were above the detection limit as compared with patients who did not have delirium. After adjusting for infection, age, and cognitive impairment, these differences were still significant.
Conclusions: Proinflammatory cytokines may contribute to the pathogenesis of delirium in acutely admitted elderly patients.