Inflammation is a risk factor for morbidity and mortality in the elderly. The neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) is a marker of systemic inflammation that integrates the information of the leukocyte differentials into one variable. We aimed to assess whether the NLR is a risk indicator for overall and cause-specific mortality in the general population. We analyzed data (2002–2014) from the Rotterdam Study, a long-standing, population-based, prospective cohort study in a community-dwelling ageing population. The association between the NLR and time to all-cause mortality was assessed with Cox proportional hazard models. We additionally assessed cardiovascular, cancer and other mortality. The multivariable analyses were adjusted for age, gender, socio-economic status (SES), smoking status, body mass index, type 2 diabetes, and history of cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Data of 8715 individuals were included. The mean age was 65.9 years (SD 10.5) and the majority were women (57.1%). The NLR was higher in men, higher age categories, smokers and among individuals with lower SES, prevalent diabetes, or a history of cancer or CVD. During the 11.7 years follow-up period, 1641 individuals died. Survival among individuals in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th quintile of the NLR was significantly poorer than that of those in the 1st quintile (P < 0.001). In the multivariable analysis, NLR levels were independently and significantly associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality (HR 1.64; 95% CI 1.44–1.86), cardiovascular mortality (HR 1.92; 95% CI 1.49–2.48), and other mortality (HR 1.86; 95% CI 1.54–2.24). No significant association was found for cancer mortality (HR 1.20; 95% CI 0.95–1.51). The NLR is a strong and independent risk indicator for mortality in the elderly population. Its clinical value needs to be established in further studies.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Low-grade inflammation, Mortality, Neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10654-018-0472-y, hdl.handle.net/1765/113453
Journal European Journal of Epidemiology
Citation
Fest, J, Ruiter, T.R, Groot Koerkamp, B, Rizopoulos, D, Ikram, M.A, van Eijck, C.H.J, & Stricker, B.H.Ch. (2018). The neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio is associated with mortality in the general population: The Rotterdam Study. European Journal of Epidemiology. doi:10.1007/s10654-018-0472-y