WEDNESDAY, Feb. 13, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Midlife systemic inflammation is associated with cognitive decline, according to a study published online Feb. 14 in Neurology.

Keenan A. Walker, Ph.D., from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues created an inflammation composite score using four blood biomarkers measured at visit 1 (fibrinogen, white blood cell count, von Willebrand factor, and factor VIII). C-reactive protein (CRP) was measured at visit 2. Using measures of memory, executive function, and language, cognition was assessed during three visits spanning 20 years. Data were included for 12,336 participants.

The researchers found that each standard deviation (SD) increase in midlife inflammation composite score correlated with an additional 20-year decline of −0.035 SD on the cognitive composite score after adjustment for demographic variables, vascular risk factors, and comorbidities. A similar correlation was seen for each SD increase in midlife CPR level and additional 20-year cognitive decline (−0.038 SD). Compared with participants in the lowest quartile, those with a midlife inflammation composite score in the top quartile had a 7.8 percent steeper decline; for CRP, there was an 11.6 percent steeper decline for the top quartile. The most consistent associations were seen for elevated midlife inflammatory markers with declines in memory.

“The current study provides support for an association between midlife systemic inflammation and subsequent cognitive decline, and in doing so, provides additional evidence for an early pathogenic role of systemic inflammation in late-life neurocognitive impairment,” the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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