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05-07-2011 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Systemic inflammation increases with age


Free abstract

MedWire News: Systemic, but not vascular, inflammatory burden increases with age, study findings suggest.

The increase was observed in different ethnic groups and was maintained after adjusting for multiple confounding variables, report Lars Berglund (University of California, Sacramento, USA) and colleagues in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.

They say the results highlight the "importance of age in evaluating inflammatory markers to assess cardiovascular risk."

Increasing attention is being paid to the critical role inflammation plays in atherosclerosis, and age is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. However, the contribution of age to increasing cardiovascular risk is not completely clear.

It is speculated that an increasing inflammatory burden might contribute to the increased risk for clinical events as patients get older.

To investigate, Berglund and colleagues evaluated two sets of inflammatory markers, one representing general, systemic inflammation and the other vascular inflammation, in 336 Caucasians and 224 African Americans.

Levels of systemic inflammation, as measured by C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, and serum amyloid-A, increased significantly with age in both ethnic groups.

Conversely, markers of vascular inflammation, assessed by measures of lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) mass and activity, and pentraxin-3, did not significantly increase with age in either group.

When the researchers adjusted the analysis for confounding factors, including gender, obesity, insulin resistance, lipid levels, and smoking, they found that the relationships between systemic and vascular inflammation remained.

"Overall, our findings suggest that systemic inflammatory markers may reflect overall age-related inflammatory burden to a greater extent than vascular markers," write the authors.

They speculate that vascular inflammation may reflect a more specific and localized atherogenic process.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By MedWire Reporters