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Association of Incident Stroke Risk With an IL-18-Centered Inflammatory Network Biomarker Composite

Originally published 2024;0


    A coordinated network of circulating inflammatory molecules centered on the pleotropic pro-atherogenic cytokine interleukin-18 (IL-18) is linked to cerebral small vessel disease. We sought to validate the association of this inflammatory biomarker network with incident stroke risk, cognitive impairment, and imaging metrics in a sample of the Framingham Offspring Cohort.


    Using available baseline measurements of serum levels of IL-18, GDF (growth and differentiation factor)-15, soluble form of receptor for advanced glycation end products, myeloperoxidase, and MCP-1 (monocyte chemoattractant protein-1) from Exam 7 of the Framingham Offspring Cohort (1998–2001), we constructed a population-normalized, equally weighted log-transformed mean Z-score value representing the average level of each serum analyte to create an inflammatory composite score (ICS5). Multivariable regression models were used to determine the association of ICS5 with incident stroke, brain magnetic resonance imaging features, and cognitive testing performance.


    We found a significant association between ICS5 score and increased risk for incident all-cause stroke (hazard ratio, 1.48 [95% CI, 1.05–2.08]; P=0.024) and ischemic stroke (hazard ratio, 1.51 [95% CI, 1.03–2.21]; P=0.033) in the Exam 7 cohort of 2201 subjects (mean age 62±9 years; 54% female) aged 45+ years with an all-cause incident stroke rate of 6.1% (135/2201) and ischemic stroke rate of 4.9% (108/2201). ICS5 and its component serum markers are all associated with the Framingham Stroke Risk Profile score (β±SE, 0.19±0.02; P<0.0001). In addition, we found a significant inverse association of ICS5 with a global cognitive score, derived from a principal components analysis of the neuropsychological battery used in the Framingham cohort (−0.08±0.03; P=0.019). No association of ICS5 with magnetic resonance imaging metrics of cerebral small vessel disease was observed.


    Circulating serum levels of inflammatory biomarkers centered on IL-18 are associated with an increased risk of stroke and cognitive impairment in the Framingham Offspring Cohort. Linking specific inflammatory pathways to cerebral small vessel disease may enhance individualized quantitative risk assessment for future stroke and vascular cognitive impairment.


    For Sources of Funding and Disclosures, see page XXX.

    Supplemental Material is available at

    Correspondence to: Jason D. Hinman, MD, PhD, Department of Neurology, University of California Los Angeles, Gordon Neuroscience Research Bldg, Rm 415, 635 Charles E. Young Dr S, Los Angeles, CA 90095. Email


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