The association between systemic inflammation and cognitive deficits is well-documented. Further, previous studies have shown that systemic inflammation levels increase with age.
The present study took a novel approach by examining the extent to which systemic inflammation levels mediated age-related cognitive decline. Forty-seven young and 46 older generally healthy adults completed two cognitive tasks measuring processing speed and short-term memory, respectively. Serum concentrations of three inflammatory biomarkers (including interleukin 6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), C-reactive protein (CRP)) were measured in each participant. Both cognitive measures showed age-related deficits. In addition, levels of IL-6 and TNF-α were elevated with age. IL-6 partially mediated the difference in processing speed between the young and the older participant age group; there was no mediation effect for TNF-α and CRP. Considering chronological age, IL-6 partially accounted for age-related impairment in processing speed within older but not young participants. No effects were found for short-term memory.
Evidence from this research supports the role of inflammatory processes in age-related cognitive decline. Processes involved in this mediation and differences in inflammatory influence on specific cognitive functions are discussed.
Medical opinion and guidance should always be sought for any symptoms that might possibly reflect a known or suspected disease, disorder or medical condition. Information provided on this website (or by FAB Research via any other means) does not in any way constitute advice on the treatment of any medical condition formally diagnosed or otherwise.