Apoptosis and the Aging Immune System

Beyond the exhaustion of immunological space due to cytomegalovirus, there are other contributing factors leading to the degeneration of the immune system: "Immunosenescence is characterized by a peculiar remodeling of the immune system, mainly induced by lifelong antigenic burden and oxidative stress. Apoptosis or programmed cell death plays a central role in the ageing process. ... The apoptosis remodeling, in addition to inflamm-ageing, i.e. the upregulation of anti-stress responses and inflammatory cytokines, represents one of the major determinants of ageing rate and longevity, as well as of the most common age-related diseases. ... A correct modulation of apoptosis may be useful for prolonging the lifespan or at least reducing age-related degenerative, inflammatory and neoplastic diseases whose incidence increases with age. This review [highlights] emerging anti-ageing therapeutical strategies offered by apoptosis re-modulation. The challenge for the future is to identify factors and signals that regulate apoptotic processes and determine if selective apoptosis manipulation [could] preserve immune function in the elderly." Through increased understanding comes the possibility of action for increased healthy longevity.

Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17584051

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