Older patients with delirium had significantly elevated levels of the inflammatory markers

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Delirium is an acute state of confusion. It is the most common complication among hospitalized elders.  It affects 10-20% of all hospitalized adults, and 30-40% of elderly hospitalized patients and up to 80% of ICU patients. It is widely assumed to be a short-term, transient condition. But a new study led by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center confirms that inflammation plays a role in the onset of delirium. Inflammation is an immune response that develops when the body attempts to protect itself from harmful stimuli.

There is now evidence that delirium and its effects can last long after (usually within the 12 months) patients have left the hospital. We want our patients to get better, not worse, after a hospitalization, authors say. This occurs in up to 64 percent of hospitalized seniors and is associated with a two- to three-fold increase in the subsequent development of dementia.

The current study results were published in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, and the new study found that older patients with delirium had significantly elevated levels of the inflammatory marker interleukin-6 (IL-6) two days after surgery and also identified elevated levels of interleukin 2 (IL-2) in delirious patients.

Anything that causes tissue injury, including infection or illness as well as surgery, can activate various immune cells and cause inflammation. Understanding the role that inflammation plays in the onset of delirium can help us identify patients who may be at highest risk of developing this condition and help us take steps to reduce their risk. It can also help design new interventions to prevent or treat delirium.” “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,” says Marcantonio, HMS professor of medicine and director of the Aging Research Program in the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care at Beth Israel Deaconess.


Additional Notes: my perspective

I believe, testing for elevated levels of especially interleukin 2 in blood samples would probably help understand the gravity of the situation.:

{interleukin-6 (IL-6) function is differentiation and antibody secretion, where as interleukin 2 (IL-2) stimulates growth and differentiation of T cell response -IL-2 is used in immunotherapy to treat cancer and to raise CD4 counts in HIV positive patients.

IL-2 is part of the body’s natural response to microbial infection, and in discriminating between foreign (“non-self”) and “self”. IL-2 has key roles in key functions of the immune system, tolerance and immunity, primarily via its direct effects on T cells. In the thymus, where T cells mature, it prevents autoimmune diseases by promoting the differentiation of certain immature T cells into regulatory T cells, which suppress other T cells that are otherwise primed to attack normal healthy cells in the body. IL-2 also promotes the differentiation of T cells into effector T cells and into memory T cells when the initial T cell is also stimulated by an antigen, thus helping the body fight off infections}: Source. While the causes of itchiness are poorly understood, there is some evidence that IL-2 may be involved in itchy psoriasis: Source, Source.


This appears to be in line with what has been discovered recently: A good state of mind — that is, your happiness — affects your genes , which says that “Psychological well-being has been shown to forecast future physical health above and beyond its association with current physical health, and above and beyond its association with reduced levels of stress, depression, and other negative affective. ” In other words, it is about self-gratification vs self-realization, working for self vs working to help, perhaps.


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