Adult socioeconomic position, C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 in the Whitehall II prospective study

David Gimeno, Eric J. Brunner, Gordon D.O. Lowe, Ann Rumley, Michael G. Marmot, Jane E. Ferrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Background: Prior studies on the association of inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), with socioeconomic position (SEP) have been cross-sectional. Thus, the question of whether socioeconomic differences in CRP and IL-6 change over time remains unanswered. We examined the relationship between SEP and changes over 12 years in CRP and IL-6. Methods: Data were for 4,750 middle-aged (mean 49.0 years, SD 5.9) civil servants from phases 3 and 7 of the Whitehall II study. Adult SEP was based on last known Civil Service employment grade. Covariates included sociodemographics, behavioural and biological risk factors, presence of diseases/illnesses, prescribed medications, work-related factors, labour market status and early life factors. Results: Steep socioeconomic gradients observed at Phase 3 (p < 0.001) persisted in both CRP and IL-6 12 years later after adjustment for other risk factors. Adjustment for behavioural (diet and smoking), biological (mainly body mass index and total : HDL cholesterol ratio) and early life factors resulted in considerable attenuation but the inverse socioeconomic gradients remained statistically significant. Although CRP and IL-6 concentrations increased substantially over the 12-year period at every level of SEP, CRP and IL-6 did not change differentially according to SEP. Conclusion: Despite overall increases in CRP and IL6, relative differences by SEP remained unchanged so that socioeconomic gradients in both sexes persisted over the period observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-683
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Analysis of change
  • Cohort studies
  • Early life
  • Inflammatory markers
  • Social gradient

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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