Inflammation as a risk factor for the development of frailty in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936

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Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: Research suggests that frailty is associated with higher inflammation levels. We investigated the longitudinal association between chronic inflammation and frailty progression.

METHODS: Participants of the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936, aged 70 at baseline were tested four times over 12 years (wave 1: n = 1091, wave 4: n = 550). Frailty was assessed by; the Frailty Index at waves 1-4 and Fried phenotype at waves 1, 3 and 4. Two blood-based inflammatory biomarkers were measured at wave 1: Fibrinogen and C-reactive protein (CRP).

RESULTS: Fully-adjusted, linear mixed effects models showed higher Fibrinogen was significantly associated with higher wave 1 Frailty Index score (β = 0.011, 95% CI[0.002,0.020], p < .05). Over 12 year follow-up, higher wave 1 CRP (β = 0.001, 95% CI[0.000,0.002], p < .05) and Fibrinogen (β = 0.004, 95% CI[0.001,0.007], p < .05) were significantly associated with increased Frailty Index change. For the Fried phenotype, wave 1 Pre-frail and Frail participants had higher CRP and Fibrinogen than Non-frail participants (p < .001). Logistic regression models calculated risk of worsening frailty over follow-up and we observed no significant association of CRP or Fibrinogen in minimally-adjusted nor fully-adjusted models.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings showed a longitudinal association of higher wave 1 CRP and Fibrinogen on worsening frailty in the Frailty Index, but not Fried Phenotype. A possible explanation for this disparity may lie in the conceptual differences between frailty measures (a biopsychosocial vs physical approach). Future research, which further explores different domains of frailty, as well the associations between improving frailty and inflammation levels, may elucidate the pathway through which inflammation influences frailty progression. This may improve earlier identification of those at high frailty risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111055
JournalExperimental gerontology
Early online date11 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


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