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Cytokines and Cells in the Aging of Immunity

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Posted March 26, 2013
This news or article is intended for readers with certain scientific or professional knowledge in the field.

Several alterations in immune function and a concomitant progressive increase in pro-inflammatory status are the major characteristics of ageing process. Cytokines play a key role during ageing acting both in regulatory communications among cells and in effector activity during an immune response.

The impact of age on intracellular Type 1 (IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha) and Type 2 (IL-4) cytokines, after stimulation with PMA/ionomycin, was determined in three CD4+ T subsets, i.e. CD95- CD28+ (virgin), CD95+ CD28+ (activated/memory), and CD95+ CD28- (effector/memory) from 47 subjects aged between 21 and 99 years.

The percentage of IFN-gamma positive cells significantly decreased in virgin CD4+ subset both in old and nonagenarian subjects, as well as in activated/memory T cells from old in comparison with young subjects. The percentage of TNF-alpha positive cells significantly decreased in activated/memory CD4+ subset from old people. Regarding Type 2 cytokines, IL-4 positive cells significantly increased in activated/memory CD4+ subset from nonagenarians.

On the whole scientific data indicate that:

  1. different Type 1 and Type 2 cytokine-positive CD4+ T subsets are differently affected by ageing process;
  2. activated/memory T cells appear to be the most affected subset;
  3. a shift towards an increased role of Type 2 cytokines and a diminished role of Type 1 cytokines emerges with ageing.

Source: Innovita Research Foundation.

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