Biochemical clusters predict mortality and reported inability to work 10 ​years later

Nina Bertele, Alexander Karabatsiakis, Anat Talmon, Claudia Buss*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Chronic systemic inflammation has been linked to premature mortality and limited somatic as well as mental health with consequences for capability to work and everyday functioning. We recently identified three biochemical clusters of endocrine and immune parameters (C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), fibrinogen, cortisol and creatinine) in participants, age 35–81 years, of the open access Midlife in the United States Study (MIDUS) dataset. These clusters have been validated in an independent cohort of Japanese mid-life adults. Among these clusters, the one characterized by high inflammation coupled with low cortisol and creatinine concentrations was associated with the highest disease burden, referred to as high-risk cluster in the following. The current study aims to further examine the nature of this cluster and specifically whether it predicts mortality and the reported inability to work the last 30 days 10 years after the biomarker assessment. Methods and findings: Longitudinally assessed health data from N ​= ​1234 individuals were analyzed in the current study. Logistic regression analyses were performed to predict mortality within one decade after first assessment (T0 ​= ​first assessment; T1 ​= ​second assessment). General linear models were used to predict the number of days study participants were unable to work due to health issues in the last 30 days (assessed at T1, analyses restricted to individuals <70 years of age). Biological sex, disease burden, and age at T0 were used as covariates in all analyses. Individuals in the previously identified high-risk cluster had a higher risk for mortality (22% of individuals deceased between T0 and T1 versus 10% respectively 9% in the two other clusters). Logistic regression models predicting mortality resulted in a significant difference between individuals from the high-risk cluster compared to those from an identified reference cluster (indicator method, p ​= ​.012), independently of age and disease burden. Furthermore, individuals in the high-risk cluster reported a higher number of disability days during the past 30 days (3.4 days in the high-risk cluster versus 1.5 respectively 1.0 days in the reference clusters) assessed at T1. All pairwise comparisons involving the high-risk cluster were significant (all ps ​< ​.001). Conclusions: Immune-endocrine profiles are predictive of mortality within the following decade over and above age and disease burden. The findings thus highlight the importance of biomarker-based risk profiling that may provide new targets for interventions in the context of preventive medicine in the transition from health to disease and disease-related mortality.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number100432
Pages (from-to)100432
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity - Health
StatePublished - May 2022

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© 2022


  • Biomarkers
  • High-risk cluster
  • Mortality
  • Patient stratification
  • Risk assessment
  • Systemic inflammation


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