The journal of nutrition, health & aging

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 288–299 | Cite as

The independent role of inflammation in physical frailty among older adults with mild cognitive impairment and mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease

  • Laura TayEmail author
  • W. S. Lim
  • M. Chan
  • R. J. Ye
  • M. S. Chong



To examine the independent and combined effects of inflammation and endocrine dysregulation on (i) baseline frailty status and (ii) frailty progression at one year, among cognitively impaired community dwelling older adults.


Prospective cohort study.


Tertiary Memory Clinic.


We recruited patients with mild cognitive impairment and mild-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Physical frailty status was assessed at baseline and 1-year. Blood biomarkers of systemic inflammation [interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α)] and anabolic hormones [insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS)] were measured at baseline and examined in relation to physical frailty status at baseline and progression at 1-year. Each subject was categorized as (i) neither pro-inflammatory nor endocrine deficient, (ii) pro-inflammatory (IL-6 or TNF-α, or both, being in highest quartile) but not endocrine deficient, (iii) endocrine deficient (IGF-1 or DHEAS, or both, being in lowest quartile) but not pro-inflammatory and (iv) both pro-inflammatory and endocrine deficient.


Twenty (20.2%) of 99 subjects were physically frail at baseline. There was no association between severity of cognitive impairment and baseline frailty status, but the frail group had significantly greater hippocampal atrophy (median MTA: 2 (2–3) vs 1 (1–2), p=0.010). TNF-α was significantly higher in subjects who were physically frail at baseline (median TNF-α: 1.30 (0.60–1.40) vs 0.60 (0.50–1.30) pg/mL, p=0.035). In multiple logistic regression adjusted for age and gender, a pro-inflammatory state in the absence of concomitant endocrine deficiency was significantly associated with physical frailty at baseline (OR=4.99, 95% C.I 1.25–19.88, p=0.023); this was no longer significant when MTA score was included in the model. Isolated pro-inflammatory state (without endocrine deficiency) significantly increased the odds of frailty progression (OR=4.06, 95% CI 1.09–15.10, p=0.037) at 1-year. The combination pro-inflammatory and endocrine deficient state was not significantly associated with either baseline or progressive physical frailty.


A pro-inflammatory state exerts differential effects on physical frailty, contributing to the increased risk of baseline and progressive frailty only in the absence of a concomitant endocrine deficient state, with potential mediation via neurodegeneration.


Frailty cognitive impairment inflammation 


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Copyright information

© Serdi and Springer-Verlag France 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Tay
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • W. S. Lim
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Chan
    • 1
    • 2
  • R. J. Ye
    • 2
  • M. S. Chong
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Cognition and Memory Disorders Service. Department of Geriatric MedicineTan Tock Seng HospitalSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Institute of Geriatrics and Active AgeingTan Tock Seng HospitalSingaporeSingapore

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