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Immune system changes and immunosenescence 

Immune system changes and immunosenescence
Immune system changes and immunosenescence
Oxford Textbook of Geriatric Medicine (3 edn)

Graham Pawelec

, Ludmila Müller

, Tamas Fülöp

, and Deborah Dunn-Walters


The immune system defends against infection, but older people paradoxically suffer not only from failing immunity resulting in increased susceptibility to infections and decreased responsiveness to vaccination, but at the same time increased inflammation and immunopathology accompanying immune responses. Interventions to reduce such deleterious effects while enhancing protective immunity are challenging but need to be confronted if we are to deal successfully with the increasing numbers of elderly and frail people in modern societies. To do this, we need to understand the mechanisms responsible for age-associated increased susceptibility to infections and immune-influenced chronic degenerative diseases of ageing. Defining relevant age-associated alterations and identifying reliable biomarkers for monitoring clinically-relevant immune status in the elderly population is crucial to overcoming these problems. Here, we briefly outline age-associated changes to immunity collectively termed ‘immunosenescence’.

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