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Keywords:

  • pulmonary function;
  • inflammation;
  • older women

OBJECTIVES: To determine whether combined higher interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels are associated with lower pulmonary function levels in older women, accounting for chronic inflammatory diseases, physical function, and other factors associated with inflammation.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study using data from two prospective cohorts.

SETTING: Baltimore, Maryland.

PARTICIPANTS: Eight hundred forty disabled and 332 higher-functioning community-dwelling women aged 65 and older from the Women's Health and Aging Studies (WHAS) I and II, respectively.

MEASUREMENTS: IL-6 and CRP, combined according to their tertile concentrations, and pulmonary function measures, assessed according to forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC).

RESULTS: In WHAS I and II, similar dose-response trends were observed between combined higher IL-6 and CRP levels and lower pulmonary function levels. In WHAS I (disabled women), the combined highest IL-6 and CRP levels were associated with the lowest levels of FEV1 (mean 137.0 mL, 95% confidence interval (CI)=128.4–145.7 mL) and FVC (mean 191.7 mL, 95% CI=180.4–202.9 mL). Similarly, in WHAS II (higher-functioning women), the combined highest IL-6 and CRP levels were associated with the lowest levels of FEV1 (mean 158.3 mL, 95% CI=146.3–170.4 mL) and FVC (mean 224.2 mL, 95% CI=209.9–238.5 mL).

CONCLUSION: Combined elevations in IL-6 and CRP were associated with the lowest pulmonary function levels in older women. These findings suggest that high IL-6 and CRP levels may be an indication of prevalent impaired pulmonary function. Future studies should determine whether measurement of IL-6 and CRP could enhance current methods of monitoring respiratory diseases beyond that provided by pulmonary function measures.