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Ageing is associated with chronic, low grade inflammatory activity leading to long term tissue damage, and systemic chronic inflammation has been found to be related to mortality risk from all causes in older persons.1 Also, the genetic constitution of the organism interacting with systemic inflammation may cause defined organ specific illnesses. Thus, age related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease, atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, sarcopenia, and osteoporosis, are initiated or worsened by systemic inflammation, suggesting the critical importance of unregulated systemic inflammation in the shortening of survival in humans.1–3 Accordingly, proinflammatory cytokines are believed to play a pathogenetic role in age related diseases, and genetic variations located within their promoter regions have been shown to influence the susceptibility to age related diseases, by increasing gene transcription and therefore cytokine production.3,4
Conversely, genetic variations determining increased production of anti-inflammatory cytokines or decreased production of proinflammatory cytokines have been shown to be associated with successful ageing, suggesting a role for the control of the inflammatory state in the attainment of longevity. As recently reported, the distribution of +874T→A interferon(IFN)-γ,5 −174C→G IL-6,6 and −1082G→A interleukin(IL)-107 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) has been shown to be different in centenarians than in younger people.5–7 The +874T allele, involved in high production of the proinflammatory cytokine IFN-γ, was found less frequently in centenarian women than in control women.5 Also, the proportion of subjects homozygous for the G allele at the −174 IL-6 locus, characterised by high serum levels of the proinflammatory cytokine IL-6, was significantly decreased in centenarian men.6 Conversely, the presence of the −1082 GG genotype, suggested to be associated with high production of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10, was significantly increased in centenarian men in comparison with younger male subjects.7 These …
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