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Immunosenescence and infectious diseases 

Immunosenescence and infectious diseases
Immunosenescence and infectious diseases
Oxford Textbook of Geriatric Medicine (3 edn)

Michel Moutschen

, Henri Martens

, and Vincent Geenen


In this chapter, we briefly review the principal modes of interactions taking place between the host’s immune system and the principal groups of microorganisms. One of the principal features of immunosenescence is its links to thymus involution, with subsequent loss of diversity of the repertoire of naïve T-cells. This has a major impact on the adaptative immune responses developed against newly encountered pathogens. Interestingly, more ubiquitous mechanisms associated with the ageing process itself could also have an impact on innate immunity. Defective autophagy impairs the clearance of intracellular pathogens and age-related defects of the ubiquitination-proteasome pathway concur to blunt antiviral responses. In summary, healthy ageing is associated with subtle impairments of innate and adaptive immunity directed against all groups of pathogens. The presence of comorbid states often extorts a synergistic effect on the susceptibility to infectious diseases.

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