Journal Article

Serum Antioxidants, Inflammation, and Total Mortality in Older Women

J. Walston, Q. Xue, R. D. Semba, L. Ferrucci, A. R. Cappola, M. Ricks, J. Guralnik and L. P. Fried

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 163, issue 1, pages 18-26
Published in print January 2006 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online November 2005 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI:
Serum Antioxidants, Inflammation, and Total Mortality in Older Women

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The inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) has been linked to poor health outcomes in older adults. Oxidative stress triggers the production of IL-6, and antioxidant micronutrients play a critical role in decreasing this inflammatory response. The authors sought to identify the relations between serum levels of antioxidant nutrients and IL-6 and mortality in older women. Levels of α- and β-carotene, lycopene, lutein/zeaxanthin, α-cryptoxanthin, total carotenoids, retinol, α-tocopherol, zinc, and selenium were measured at baseline in 619 participants in Women's Health and Aging Study I (Baltimore, Maryland, 1992–1998). IL-6 was measured at baseline and at follow-up 1 and 2 years later, and all-cause mortality was determined over a 5-year period. Participants with the highest serum levels of α-carotene, total carotenoids, and selenium were significantly less likely to be in the highest tertile of serum IL-6 at baseline (p < 0.0001). Those with the lowest levels of α- and β-carotene, lutein/zeaxanthin, and total carotenoids were significantly more likely to have increasing IL-6 levels over a period of 2 years. Those with the lowest selenium levels had a significantly higher risk of total mortality over a period of 5 years (hazard ratio = 1.54, 95% confidence interval: 1.03, 2.32). These findings suggest that specific antioxidant nutrients may play an important role in suppressing IL-6 levels in disabled older women.

Keywords: aging; antioxidants; carotenoids; inflammation; interleukin-6; mortality; selenium; CI, confidence interval; OR, odds ratio; SD, standard deviation; WHAS I, Women's Health and Aging Study I

Journal Article.  4595 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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