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Relationship between vitamin D and inflammatory markers in older individuals


In older persons, vitamin D insufficiency and a subclinical chronic inflammatory status frequently coexist. Vitamin D has immune-modulatory and in vitro anti-inflammatory properties. However, there is inconclusive evidence about the anti-inflammatory role of vitamin D in older subjects. Thus, we investigated the hypothesis of an inverse relationship between 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) and inflammatory markers in a population-based study of older individuals. After excluding participants with high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) ≥ 10 mg/dl and those who were on chronic anti-inflammatory treatment, we evaluated 867 older adults ≥65 years from the InCHIANTI Study. Participants had complete data on serum concentrations of 25(OH)D, hsCRP, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, soluble TNF-α receptors 1 and 2, interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-1 receptor antagonist, IL-10, IL-18, IL-6, and soluble IL-6 receptors (sIL6r and sgp130). Two general linear models were fit (model 1—adjusted for age, sex, and parathyroid hormone (PTH); model 2—including covariates of model 1 plus dietary and smoking habits, physical activity, ADL disability, season, osteoporosis, depressive status, and comorbidities). The mean age was 75.1 ± 17.1 years ± SD. In model 1, log(25OH-D) was significantly and inversely associated with log(IL-6) (β ± SE = −0.11 ± 0.03, p = <0.0001) and log (hsCRP) (β ± SE = −0.04 ± 0.02, p = 0.04) and positively associated with log(sIL6r) (β ± SE = 0.11 ± 0.04, p = 0.003) but not with other inflammatory markers. In model 2, log (25OH-D) remained negatively associated with log (IL-6) (β ± SE = −0.10 ± 0.03, p = 0.0001) and positively associated with log(sIL6r) (β ± SE = 0.11 ± 0.03, p = 0.004) but not with log(hsCRP) (β ± SE = −0.01 ± 0.03, p = 0.07). 25(OH)D is independently and inversely associated with IL-6 and positively with sIL6r, suggesting a potential anti-inflammatory role for vitamin D in older individuals.

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We acknowledge Maurizio Conca, Pasquale Rosanova, and Maria Teresa Zanelli for their technical support.

The InCHIANTI Study was supported as a “targeted project” (ICS 110.1/RS97.71) by the Italian Ministry of Health and in part by the US National Institute on Aging (Contracts N01-AG-916413 and N01-AG-821336), and by the Intramural Research Program of the US National Institute on Aging (Contracts 263 MD 9164 13 and 263 MD 821336). None of the sponsoring institutions interfered with the collection, analysis, presentation, or interpretation of the data reported here. None of the authors had a conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Marcello Maggio.

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De Vita, F., Lauretani, F., Bauer, J. et al. Relationship between vitamin D and inflammatory markers in older individuals. AGE 36, 9694 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11357-014-9694-4

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  • Vitamin D
  • Inflammation
  • Inflammatory markers
  • Elderly subjects