Self-rated health and interleukin-6: Longitudinal relationships in older adults

Filip K. Arnberg, Mats Lekander, Jennifer N. Morey, Suzanne C. Segerstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Both self-rated health (SRH) and inflammation are implicated in chronic diseases and premature mortality. Better SRH is associated with lower proinflammatory cytokines, but there is little evidence about whether this relationship is more stable or dynamic. Objective: To study the between- and within-person associations between SRH and IL-6. Methods: Older adults (N = 131; Mage = 75 years) rated their health and provided blood samples for analysis of IL-6 at separate occasions every 6 months over a period up to 5 years. Age, sex, BMI, neuroticism, and statin use were examined as covariates in multilevel models. Results: In bivariate models, better SRH, lower BMI, younger age, and female sex correlated with lower IL-6. In multilevel models, stable SRH (between-person differences; p < .001) but not dynamic SRH (within-person changes; p = .93) correlated with IL-6. The stable relationship persisted with demographic and health covariates in the model. Conclusions: Better stable SRH but not dynamic SRH was robustly associated with lower IL-6 among older adults, lending support to previous cross-sectional findings on the relation between inflammatory markers and SRH. The findings suggest that trait-like mechanisms, rather than changes over a time scale of 6-month waves, govern this association. To further investigate the mechanisms behind the SRH-IL-6 association, studies with different measurement frequencies, higher within-person variability, and experimental approaches are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-232
Number of pages7
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
StatePublished - May 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work was supported by the Dana Foundation (to S.C.S.), the National Institute on Aging ( R01-AG026307 and K02-AG033629 to S.C.S., P30-AG028383 to Linda J. Van Eldik), and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences , ( UL1TR000117 ). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Inc.


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-6
  • Longitudinal study
  • Self-rated health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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