Those with elevated cytokine levels were more likely to develop the disease.

People whose blood shows signs of inflammation are more likely to later develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to a publication in the May 29 issue of Neurology®.

The study, which is part of the larger Framingham Heart Study, involved 691 healthy people with an average age of 79. Blood tests determined whether the participants had signs of inflammation. The volunteers were followed for an average of seven years. During that time, 44 developed Alzheimer’s disease.

The participants’ blood was tested for levels of cytokines. Those with the highest amount of cytokines in their blood were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as those with the lowest amount of cytokines. A total of 28% of women and 30% of men had high levels of cytokines and made up 42% of the cases of Alzheimer’s disease.

“These results provide further evidence that inflammation plays a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease,” according to study author Zaldy Tan, M.D., of Harvard Medical School. “The production of these cytokines may be a marker of future risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”

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