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 (glycoprotein acetylation), which seems to predict premature death due to infections. The findings, published online on October 22, 2015 in an open-access article 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. The article is titled “The Biomarker GlycA Is Associated with Chronic Inflammation and Predicts Long-Term Risk of Severe Infection.” "As biomedical researchers, we want to help people, and there are few more important things I can think of than identifying apparently healthy individuals who might actually be at increased risk of disease and death," said co-senior author Dr. Michael Inouye, of the University of Melbourne, in Australia. "We want to short-circuit that risk, and to do that we need to understand what this blood biomarker of disease risk is actually telling us." Specific study findings outlined in the article abstract were that elevated GlycA was stable within individuals for up to 10 years, GlycA marked the levels of myriad inflammatory cytokines in the circulation, a gene network enriched for neutrophil functions was associated with GlycA, and GlycA strongly predicted risk of future hospitalization and death from infection. Dr.
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