Life Extension Update
Tuesday, September 25, 2012. A report published online on September 13, 2012 in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging reveals a greater risk of inflammation among institutionalized older individuals whose levels of the mineral selenium were deficient.
"The aging process has been demonstrated to be associated with oxidative damage and increased production of inflammatory cytokines," W. Y. Lin and colleagues write in their introduction to the article. "The inappropriate presentation of inflammatory cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin (IL)-1, and IL-6, characterizes a chronic inflammatory state in the elderly. Meanwhile, it has been reported that the increase in serum inflammatory cytokines, especially IL-6, is related to the development of sarcopenia, functional disability, frailty, and increased morbidity and mortality."
The current study included 336 men and women between the ages of 65 and 101 years who were residents of long-term health facilities in Taiwan. Blood samples were analyzed for the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6), selenium and other factors.
Selenium deficiency, defined as having a serum selenium level of less than 80 micrograms per liter (mcg/L), was detected in 35.6 of the men and 43.2 percent of the women participating in the study. An increased risk of deficiency was associated with rising levels of IL-6. Among those whose IL-6 levels were among the top 25 percent of participants, the risk of deficiency was more than double that of subjects whose IL-6 levels were among the lowest quarter.
The authors attribute the finding to selenium's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and note that decreases in serum selenium as well as increases in interleukin-6 have been linked with chronic diseases involving inflammation, including cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. They remark that chronic inflammatory diseases could be a consequence rather than a cause of the relationship between selenium and IL-6; however, the design of the study prohibited exploration of causality. "Future studies should aim to further clarify the linkage between selenium and IL-6, and possible benefits and disadvantages of intervention," they conclude.
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