Discovery of Inflammation/Delirium Link May Enable Better Identification and Treatment

New research published in Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences concludes that inflammation, an immune response that develops as a protective response to harmful stimuli, plays a role in the onset of delirium in older adults. The study was led by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Boston. Delirium is a complication of hospitalization for older adults, occurring in up to 64% of patients and is associated with a 2 to 3 times increase in the later development of dementia. The study found that patients affected by delirium had significantly elevated levels of the inflammatory marker interleukin-6 (IL-6) 2 days after surgery, as well as elevated levels of IL-2. Together, these findings may help clinicians identify patients at greatest risk of developing delirium and aid in the treatment of this condition.

Senior coauthor Edward Marcantonio, MD, commented, “With strong evidence for the involvement of IL-6 and evidence for the involvement of IL-2 in patients with delirium, it appears that inflammation is indeed a basic mechanism underlying this condition. Delirium may be an inflammatory response gone awry.” By developing a better understanding of the role that inflammation may play in delirium onset, clinicians may be able to better identify patients at high risk and develop new interventions to produce better outcomes for seniors, posthospitalization.

Read a news story about the findings here.

The journal article may be read here.



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