OBJECTIVE: to assess the levels and determinants of interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α and C-reactive protein (CRP) in a healthy Caucasian population.
METHODS: population sample of 2884 men and 3201 women aged 35 to 75. IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α were assessed by a multiplexed particle-based flow cytometric assay and CRP by an immunometric assay.
RESULTS: Spearman rank correlations between duplicate cytokine measurements (N = 80) ranged between 0.89 and 0.96; intra-class correlation coefficients ranged between 0.94 and 0.97, indicating good reproducibility. Among the 6085 participants, 2289 (37.6%), 451 (7.4%) and 43 (0.7%) had IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α levels below detection limits, respectively. Median (interquartile range) for participants with detectable values were 1.17 (0.48-3.90) pg/ml for IL-1β; 1.47 (0.71-3.53) pg/ml for IL-6; 2.89 (1.82-4.53) pg/ml for TNF-α and 1.3 (0.6-2.7) ng/ml for CRP. On multivariate analysis, greater age was the only factor inversely associated with IL-1β levels. Male sex, increased BMI and smoking were associated with greater IL-6 levels, while no relationship was found for age and leisure-time PA. Male sex, greater age, increased BMI and current smoking were associated with greater TNF-α levels, while no relationship was found with leisure-time PA. CRP levels were positively related to age, BMI and smoking, and inversely to male sex and physical activity.
CONCLUSION: Population-based levels of several cytokines were established. Increased age and BMI, and to a lesser degree sex and smoking, significantly and differentially impact cytokine levels, while leisure-time physical activity has little effect.