Background: Whereas the independent effects of biomarkers, including 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25(OH)D), insulin-like growth factor 1, C-reactive protein, and interleukin 6 (IL-6), on gait speed in older adults have been evaluated, their joint effects on gait speed are not well understood.
Methods: Study subjects aged at least 65 at baseline (N = 970) were enrolled in the population-based Invecchiare in Chianti (InCHIANTI) study from 1998 to 2000 and were followed up at 3 and 6 years. All above biomarkers and gait speed data were measured at each of the three time points. Using a generalized estimating equation approach, we determined if slow gait speed (<0.8 m/s) was associated with the biomarkers. Further investigation was conducted for interactions between high IL-6 (≥.87 pg/mL) and other biomarkers focusing on low 25(OH)D (<20 ng/mL).
Results: After controlling for other biomarkers and potential confounders, IL-6 emerged as the only biomarker independently associated with gait speed. The association between high IL-6 and slow gait speed was enhanced by low 25(OH)D, with significant interaction between high IL-6 and low 25(OH)D (p = .038). The odds ratio of slow gait speed for low 25(OH)D and high IL-6 was 1.63 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.15, 2.32) compared with the reference groups with both biomarker levels at the other ends.
Conclusion: The association of low vitamin D with slow gait speed statistically interacts with high IL-6. Coexisting vitamin D insufficiency and inflammation may provide a better biomarker for identifying those at risk of developing impairments in gait speed than either factor alone.
Keywords: Gait Speed; IL-6; Interaction; Vitamin D.
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