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Cytokines and Cells in the Aging of Immunity

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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