Disease States / Health

Chronic Inflammation Linked to Unhealthy Aging

Chronic Inflammation Linked to Unhealthy AgingAs a nation, we are now living longer than ever before, with one third of the UK population now aged 50+(1). Having an aging population brings with it associated age-related health problems. In 2012 it was reported that out of the 15 million adults admitted to hospital, 7 million (46%) were aged 65 or over(2). This has led researchers to look into ways of keeping the aging population healthier for longer.

The effect that interleukin-6 and chronic inflammation have on the aging body has previously been researched and studies have suggested that inflammation is detrimental to the aging process. However, new research, (published in CMAJ 20133)(3) spanning a ten year period allowed factors such as diet, chronic disease and smoking to be investigated and the effects on a subject’s inflammatory response recorded.

A sample population of 3,044 middle aged (35-55) adults with no history of stroke, myocardial infraction or cancer (at study baseline) were selected. IL-6 levels were recorded twice through the course of the study (once at baseline, once 5 years previously in a related study).  Using hospital data, register linkage and clinical examination, cause-specific mortality, chronic disease and cognitive function were ascertained.

From this data, participants were segmented into four distinguishable sub-groups of aging:

  1. Successful aging, (free of major chronic disease with optimum physical, mental and cognitive functioning)- 721, 23.7%
  2. Normal aging- 1855, 60.9%
  3. Incident fatal or non-fatal cardiovascular disease- 321, 10.6%
  4. Death from non-cardiovascular causes- 147, 4.8%

It was found that if participants recorded two instances of high IL-6 levels over the 5 year exposure period (indicative of long term chronic inflammation) they were twice as likely to age badly, as well as increase their risk of future cardiovascular events. Measuring IL-6 levels in the geriatric population has the benefit of targeting individuals at risk of unhealthy aging, as well as being used to promote ideal health by managing long-term chronic inflammation.


  1. Mid-2012 Population Estimates UK Office for National Statistics, 2013
  2. Hospital Episode Statistics, Admitted Patient Care, England – 2012-13, published Nov 2013
  3. Akbaraly TN, Hamer M, Ferrie JE, Lowe G, Batty GD, Hagger-Johnson G, Singh-Manoux A, Shipley MJ, Kivimäki M. (2013) Chronic inflammation as a determinant of future aging phenotypes.  CMAJ. Vol 185.


The Randox Research division offers a high quality Cytokine Array I, allowing researchers to simultaneously measure IL-6 along with other cytokines, chemokines and growth factors, all on one multiplex array.  For more information, visit www.randox.com.

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