Inflammatory markers in population studies of aging

Ageing Res Rev. 2011 Jul;10(3):319-29. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2010.11.002. Epub 2010 Dec 8.


Purpose: To review findings from major epidemiologic studies regarding risk factors for and consequences of elevated markers of inflammation in older adults.

Results: Most large, current epidemiologic studies of older adults have measured serum interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and some studies also include more extensive batteries of measures including soluble receptors. There are few defined risk factors for the modest elevations in inflammatory markers seen with aging. These include visceral adiposity, lower sex steroid hormones, smoking, depression and periodontal disease. Of the markers assessed, IL-6 is most robustly associated with incident disease, disability and mortality.

Conclusion: Though correlated with age, the etiology of elevated inflammatory markers remains incompletely defined. Inflammation, especially IL-6 may be a common cause of multiple age-related diseases or a final common pathway by which disease leads to disability and adverse outcomes in older adults. Future research targeting inflammation should examine these pathways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / blood*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers