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Springer, Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 3(34), p. 515-525, 2021

DOI: 10.1007/s40520-021-01955-3



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Iron deficiency and biomarkers of inflammation: a 3-year prospective analysis of the DO-HEALTH trial.

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Abstract Background The longitudinal association between iron deficiency and inflammatory biomarkers levels has not been fully explored among relatively healthy older adults. Aims To assess whether iron deficiency at baseline and at any yearly follow-up time point, with or without anemia, was associated with changes from baseline in high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels over 3 years. Methods This is a post-hoc observational analysis of DO-HEALTH, a double-blind, randomized controlled trial including 2157 European community-dwelling adults age 70+. The outcomes were changes from baseline in hs-CRP and IL-6 levels, measured at 12, 24, and 36 months of follow-up. Iron deficiency was defined by soluble transferrin receptor levels > 28.1 nmol/L and baseline anemia by hemoglobin levels < 130 g/L for men and < 120 g/L for women. Results In total, 2141 participants were included in the analyses (mean age: 74.9 years, 61.5% of women, 26.8% with iron deficiency). Baseline iron deficiency was associated with greater increase in IL-6 levels (mean difference in change: 0.52 ng/L, 95%CI 0.03–1.00, P = .04) over 3 years. Iron deficiency at any yearly time point was associated with higher increases in hs-CRP (mean difference in change: 1.62 mg/L, 95%CI 0.98–2.26, P < .001) and IL-6 levels (mean difference in change: 1.33 ng/L, 95%CI 0.87–1.79, P < .001) over 3 years. No significant interaction between iron deficiency and anemia was found, suggesting that the results are independent of the anemic status. Conclusions These findings suggest that iron deficiency may play a role in low-grade chronic inflammation among relatively healthy older adults.