Simple biologically informed inflammatory index of two serum cytokines predicts 10 year all-cause mortality in older adults

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2014 Feb;69(2):165-73. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glt023. Epub 2013 May 20.


Background: Individual measurements of inflammation have been utilized to assess adverse outcomes risk in older adults with varying degrees of success. This study was designed to identify biologically informed, aggregate measures of inflammation for optimal risk assessment and to inform further biological study of inflammatory pathways.

Methods: In total, 15 nuclear factor-kappa B-mediated pathway markers of inflammation were first measured in baseline serum samples of 1,155 older participants in the InCHIANTI population. Of these, C-reactive protein, interleukin-1-receptor antagonist, interleukin-6, interleukin-18, and soluble tumor necrosis factor-α receptor-1 were independent predictors of 5-year mortality. These five inflammatory markers were measured in baseline serum samples of 5,600 Cardiovascular Health Study participants. A weighted summary score, the first principal component summary score, and an inflammation index score were developed from these five log-transformed inflammatory markers, and their prediction of 10-year all-cause mortality was evaluated in Cardiovascular Health Study and then validated in InCHIANTI.

Results: The inflammation index score that included interleukin-6 and soluble tumor necrosis factor-α receptor-1 was the best predictor of 10-year all-cause mortality in Cardiovascular Health Study, after adjusting for age, sex, education, race, smoking, and body mass index (hazards ratio = 1.62; 95% CI: 1.54, 1.70) compared with all other single and combined measures. The inflammation index score was also the best predictor of mortality in the InCHIANTI validation study (hazards ratio 1.33; 95% CI: 1.17-1.52). Stratification by sex and CVD status further strengthened the association of inflammation index score with mortality.

Conclusion: A simple additive index of serum interleukin-6 and soluble tumor necrosis factor-α receptor-1 best captures the effect of chronic inflammation on mortality in older adults among the 15 biomarkers measured.

Keywords: Aging.; Cytokine; Inflammation; Mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / mortality
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein / blood
  • Interleukin-18 / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Longevity / physiology*
  • Male
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type I / blood*
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein
  • Interleukin-18
  • Interleukin-6
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type I
  • C-Reactive Protein