Socioeconomic Position, Race/Ethnicity, and Inflammation in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis

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Ranjit, Nalini and Diez-Roux, Ana V. and Shea, Steven and Cushman, Mary and Ni, Hanyu and Seeman, Teresa (2007) Socioeconomic Position, Race/Ethnicity, and Inflammation in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Circulation, 116. pp. 2383-2390.


Background—Low socioeconomic position is known to be associated with cardiovascular events and atherosclerosis. Reasons for these associations remain a topic of research. Inflammation could be an important mediating mechanism linking socioeconomic position to cardiovascular risk. Methods and Results—This cross-sectional study used data from the baseline examination of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a study of 6814 men and women 45 to 84 years of age. Race- and ethnicity-stratified regression analyses were used to estimate associations of household income and education with C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 before and after adjustment for infection and medication use, psychosocial factors, behaviors, adiposity, and diabetes mellitus. Low income was associated with higher concentrations of interleukin-6 in all race/ethnic groups. Percent differences associated with 1-SD–lower income were 9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 7 to 11), 6% (95% CI, 1 to 10), 8% (95% CI, 4 to 11), and 8% (95% CI, 3 to 13) for whites, Chinese, blacks, and Hispanics. Low levels of education were associated with higher levels of interleukin-6 only among whites and blacks (percent difference in interleukin-6 associated with 1-SD–lower education: 9% [95% CI, 6 to 12] among Whites, and 7% [95% CI, 3 to 10] among blacks). Similar patterns were observed for C-reactive protein. Adiposity was the single most important factor explaining socioeconomic position associations, especially among blacks and whites. A smaller effect was seen for psychosocial factors and behaviors in all race groups. Conclusions—Both household income and education are associated with inflammation, but associations vary across race/ethnic groups. Associations likely result from socioeconomic position patterning of adiposity and other factors.