BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS. A systemic inflammation is characterized by high blood plasma levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP). Medical researchers at the Brigham and Women's Hospital now report that they have discovered a strong association between the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and high blood levels of IL-6 and CRP.
Their study involved 27,628 female health professionals who were free of diabetes at enrollment in 1992. Four years later 188 of the women had been diagnosed with diabetes. They were paired with 362 healthy, age-matched controls and blood levels of IL-6 and CRP (at baseline) were compared between the two groups. The researchers found that women with a high CRP level had a 15.7 times higher risk of diabetes than did women with a low level (highest quartile versus lowest quartile). Similarly, the risk among women with a high IL-6 level was 7.5 times higher than among women with a low level. Adjusting for body mass index, family history of diabetes, smoking, exercise, use of alcohol, and hormone replacement therapy reduced the excess risk related to high IL-6 levels to 2.3 and that for CRP to 4.2.
The researchers conclude that elevated levels of CRP and IL-6 predict the development of type 2 diabetes
and that their data supports a role for inflammation in the development of diabetes.