Background: Aging is characterized by a mild proinflammatory state. In older men, low testosterone levels have been associated with increasing levels of proinflammatory cytokines. It is still unclear whether estradiol (E2), which generally has biological activities complementary to testosterone, affects inflammation.
Methods: We analyzed data obtained from 399 men aged 65-95 yr enrolled in the Invecchiare in Chianti study with complete data on body mass index (BMI), serum E2, testosterone, IL-6, soluble IL-6 receptor, TNF-alpha, IL-1 receptor antagonist, and C-reactive protein. The relationship between E2 and inflammatory markers was examined using multivariate linear models adjusted for age, BMI, smoking, physical activity, chronic disease, and total testosterone.
Results: In age-adjusted analysis, log (E2) was positively associated with log (IL-6) (r = 0.19; P = 0.047), and the relationship was statistically significant (P = 0.032) after adjustments for age, BMI, smoking, physical activity, chronic disease, and serum testosterone levels. Log (E2) was not significantly associated with log (C-reactive protein), log (soluble IL-6 receptor), or log (TNF-alpha) in both age-adjusted and fully adjusted analyses.
Conclusions: In older men, E2 is weakly positively associated with IL-6, independent of testosterone and other confounders including BMI.