J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2015 Oct 27;70(10):1289-95. Epub 2015 Jul 27.
Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. Aging Brain Center, Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston, Massachusetts. Department of Medicine, and.
Background: A proinflammatory state has been associated with several age-associated conditions; however, the inflammatory mechanisms of delirium remain poorly characterized.
Methods: Using the Successful Aging after Elective Surgery Study of adults age ≥70 undergoing major noncardiac surgery, 12 cytokines were measured at four timepoints: preoperative, postanesthesia care unit, postoperative day 2 (POD2) and 30 days later (POD1M). We conducted a nested, longitudinal matched (on age, sex, surgery type, baseline cognition, vascular comorbidity, and Apolipoprotein E genotype) case-control study: delirium cases and no-delirium controls were selected from the overall cohort (N = 566; 24% delirium). Analyses were independently conducted in discovery, replication, and pooled cohorts (39, 36, 75 matched pairs, respectively). Nonparametric signed-rank tests evaluating differences in cytokine levels between matched pairs were used to identify delirium-associated cytokines.
Results: In the discovery and replication cohorts, matching variables were similar in cases and controls. Compared to controls, cases had (*p < .05, **p < .01) significantly higher interleukin-6 on POD2 in the discovery, replication, and pooled cohorts (median difference [pg/mL] 50.44**, 20.17*, 39.35**, respectively). In the pooled cohort, cases were higher than controls for interleukin-2 (0.99*, 0.77*, 1.07**, 0.73* at preoperative, postanesthesia care unit, POD2, POD1M, respectively), vascular endothelial growth factor (4.10* at POD2), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (3.10* at POD1M), while cases had lower interleukin-12 at POD1M (-4.24*).
Conclusions: In this large, well-characterized cohort assessed at multiple timepoints, we observed an inflammatory signature of delirium involving elevated interleukin-6 at POD2, which may be an important disease marker for delirium. We also observed preliminary evidence for involvement of other cytokines.