White blood cell counts, insulinlike growth factor-1 levels, and frailty in community-dwelling older women

Sean X. Leng, Will Hung, Anne R. Cappola, Qilu Yu, Qian Li Xue, Linda P. Fried

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background. Elevated white blood cell (WBC) counts and decreased insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels are individually associated with frailty in older adults. WBC subpopulations are known to produce IGF-1 and express IGF-1 receptors in vitro. However, in vivo relationships between WBC and IGF-1 and their joint contribution to frailty have not been investigated. Methods. Baseline data from 696 community-dwelling older women in the Women's Health and Aging Study I were included in this cross-sectional analysis. Multivariate linear regression analysis was performed to assess the relationship between WBC counts and IGF-1 levels. Odds ratios (ORs) for frailty were evaluated across tertiles of WBC counts and IGF-1 levels, adjusting for age, race, education, body mass index, and smoking. Results. WBC counts correlated with IGF-1 levels (Spearman coefficient: .10, p <.01). Compared with participants in the low WBC and high IGF-1 tertiles (reference group), those in the low WBC and low IGF-1 tertiles had OR of 2.33 for frailty (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.04-3.65, p <.05), those in the high WBC and high IGF-1 tertiles had OR of 3.86 (95% CI: 1.13-4.07, p <.01), and those in the high WBC and low IGF-1 tertiles had OR of 3.61 (95% CI: 1.64-4.97, p <.01), adjusting for covariates. Conclusions. These findings demonstrate in vivo correlation between WBC and IGF-1. They suggest U-shaped joint associations of WBC and IGF-1 with frailty, with the strongest association at adverse levels of both. They also provide a basis for further investigation into the complex immune-endocrine dysregulations in frailty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-502
Number of pages4
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009



  • Frailty
  • IGF
  • WBC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Medicine(all)

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