A biomarker for premature death

A biomarker for premature death
 

A single blood test could reveal whether an otherwise healthy person is unusually likely to die of pneumonia or sepsis within the next 14 years. Based on an analysis of 10,000 individuals, researchers have identified a molecular byproduct of inflammation, called GlycA, which seems to predict premature death due to infections.

The findings, published in Cell Systems, suggest that high GlycA levels in the blood indicate a state of chronic inflammation that may arise from low-level chronic infection or an overactive immune response. That inflammation damages the body, which likely renders individuals more susceptible to severe infections.

Researchers note that additional studies are needed to uncover the mechanisms involved in GlycA's link to inflammation and premature death, and whether testing for GlycA levels in the clinic might someday be warranted.

For example, to plan a course of treatment, researchers need to know whether high GlycA is the result of a chronic, low-level microbial infection or an aberrant reaction of the body's own inflammatory response.

The findings will likely form the foundation for numerous other studies that will investigate the role of GlycA in the body. 

http://www.cell.com/cell-systems/abstract/S2405-4712(15)00145-3

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