Immunosenescence Abstracts 1


Hormones and immune function: implications of aging.
            (Arlt and Hewison, 2004) Download
Aging is associated with a decline in immunity described as immunosenescence. This is paralleled by a decline in the production of several hormones, as typically illustrated by the menopausal loss of ovarian oestrogen production. However, other hormonal changes that occur with aging and that potentially impact on immune function include the release of the pineal gland hormone melatonin and pituitary growth hormone, adrenal production of dehydroepiandrosterone and tissue-specific availability of active vitamin D. It remains to be established whether hormonal changes with aging actually contribute to immunosenescence and this area is at the interface of fact and fiction, clearly inviting systematic research efforts. As a step in this direction, the present review summarizes established facts on the physiology of secretion and function of hormones that, in most cases, decline with aging and that are likely to affect the immune system.

Psychoneuroendocrine interventions aimed at attenuating immunosenescence: a review.
            (Bauer et al., 2013) Download
There is evidence suggesting that immunosenescence can be accelerated by external factors such as chronic stress. Here we review potential psychoneuroendocrine determinants of premature aging of the immune system and discuss available interventions aimed at attenuating immunosenescence. Chronic stress may accelerate various features of immunosenescence by activating key allostatic systems, notably the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. The immunological impact of such neuroendocrine dysregulation may be further amplified by a dramatic decline in dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) levels, acting in part as an endogenous glucocorticoid antagonist. Stress-buffering strategies show beneficial effects on various biomarkers in elderly populations. Likewise, supplementation of DHEA, melatonin or growth hormone has yielded significant beneficial effects in a number of studies, including: increased well-being, memory performance, bone mineral density and improved immunocompetence as evidenced by results of in vitro (T cell proliferation, cytotoxicity, cytokine production), and in vivo immune challenges. However, the side-effects of hormonal supplementation are also discussed. Finally, moderate exercise via the promotion of cortisol/DHEA balance or epigenetic modifications, is associated with lower serum pro-inflammatory cytokines, greater lymphoproliferative responses and lower counts of senescent T cells. Taken together, these data suggest that immune system is plastic and immunosenescence can be attenuated psychoneuroendocrine interventions.

Neuroendocrine and viral correlates of premature immunosenescence.
            (Bauer et al., 2015) Download
Aging continuously remodels the immune system, a process known as immunosenescence. Here, we review evidence of premature immunosenescence in younger individuals under conditions of chronic psychological stress, chronic inflammation, or exposure to certain persistent viral infections. Chronic stress may accelerate various features of immunosenescence by activating key allostatic systems, notably the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and increased cortisol levels. Chronic stress is associated with thymic involution, blunted T cell proliferation, increased serum proinflammatory markers, and shorter telomere lengths. Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection has been implicated in accelerating immunosenescence by shrinking the T cell receptor repertoire and causing clonal expansion of senescent CD8(+) CD28(-) T cells with a proinflammatory profile. These factors increase inflammation associated with aging, or "inflammaging," particularly as it relates to etiology of several age-related diseases and increased mortality. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis have been shown to have several signatures of premature immunosenescence, including expansion of senescent T cells associated with cognitive impairment. We end by speculating that bipolar disorder can be considered as a model of accelerated aging because it has been associated with shortened telomeres, higher CMV IgG titers, and expansion of senescent and regulatory T cells.

Zinc, aging, and immunosenescence: an overview.
            (Cabrera, 2015) Download
Zinc plays an essential role in many biochemical pathways and participates in several cell functions, including the immune response. This review describes the role of zinc in human health, aging, and immunosenescence. Zinc deficiency is frequent in the elderly and leads to changes similar to those that occur in oxidative inflammatory aging (oxi-inflamm-aging) and immunosenescence. The possible benefits of zinc supplementation to enhance immune function are discussed.

Immunosenescence and anti-immunosenescence therapies: the case of probiotics.
            (Candore et al., 2008) Download
Aging is a complex process that negatively impacts the development of the immune system and its ability to function. Progressive changes in the T and B cell systems over the life span have a major impact on the capacity to respond to immune challenge. These cumulative age-associated changes in immune competence are termed immunosenescence. This process is mostly characterized by: (1) shrinkage of the T cell repertoire and accumulation of oligoclonal expansions of memory/effector cells directed toward ubiquitary infectious agents; (2) involution of the thymus and the exhaustion of naive T cells; and (3) chronic inflammatory status. Here we discuss possible strategies to counteract these main aspects of immunosenescence, in particular the role of the normalization of intestinal microflora by probiotics. A better understanding of immunosenescence and the development of new strategies to counteract it are essential for improving the quality of life of the elderly population.

Complexity of anti-immunosenescence strategies in humans.
            (Capri et al., 2006) Download
Immunosenescence is characterized by three main aspects: (i) the shrinkage of the T cell repertoire and the accumulation of oligoclonal expansions (megaclones) of memory/effector cells directed toward ubiquitary infectious agents; (ii) the involution of the thymus and the exhaustion of naïve T cells; and (iii) a chronic inflammatory status called inflamm-aging. We present here possible strategies to counteract these main aspects of immunosenescence in humans with particular attention to the reduction of antigenic load by pathogens, such as CMV, and the normalization of intestinal microflora, the possible utilization of IL-7 to reverse thymic involution, the purging of megaclones, the forced expression of CD28 on T lymphocytes, the reduction of inflamm-aging and the administration of nutrients such as vitamin D. Possible drawbacks of all these strategies are discussed. Finally, the complexity of a rejuvenation approach is stressed, with particular attention to the inhibitory role played by the "old microenvironment" on the performance of progenitor cells, the best candidate to counteract the decline in regenerative potential characteristic of organs and tissues from old organisms.

Effects of theabrownin from pu-erh tea on the metabolism of serum lipids in rats: mechanism of action.
            (Gong et al., 2010) Download
Theabrownin (TB), one of the main bioactive components in pu-erh tea, has a significant blood lipid-lowering effect in hyperlipidemic rats. Therefore, it was hypothesized that TB would regulate the activity of key enzymes involved in lipid metabolism and accelerate the catabolism of exogenous cholesterol in rats fed a high fat diet. A total of 90 Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into a normal control group (Group I), a high fat diet group (Group II), and high-fat diet plus TB group (Group III). A total of 10 rats were selected from each group and killed at 15, 30, or 45 d after starting the study for analysis. After feeding 45 d, the contents of TC, TG, and LDL-C levels in Group II were increased by 54.9%, 93.1%, and 134.3% compared with those in Group III, respectively, and the content of HDL-C in Group II was decreased by 55.7%. These effects were inhibited in the rats in Group III, which exhibited no significant differences in these levels compared with Group I, indicating that TB can prevent hyperlipidemia in rats fed a high fat diet. TB enhanced the activity of hepatic lipase and hormone-sensitive triglyceride lipase (HSL) and increased the HSL mRNA expression in liver tissue and epididymis tissue. The HL activity in serum of Group III was increased by 147.6% compared with that in Group II. The content of cholesterol and bile acid in the feces of rats was increased by 21.11- and 4.08-fold by TB. It suggested that TB could promote the transformation and excretion of dietary cholesterol of rats in vivo.

Immunosenescence and vaccine failure in the elderly.
            (Grubeck-Loebenstein et al., 2009) Download
An age-related decline in immune responses in the elderly results in greater susceptibility to infection and reduced responses to vaccination. This decline in immune function affects both innate and adaptive immune systems. A meeting of experts in immunology and gerontology in Paris, France, in April 2008, considered current understanding of immunosenescence and its clinical consequences. Essential features of immunosenescence include: reduced natural killer cell cytotoxicity on a per cell basis; reduced number and function of dendritic cells in blood; decreased pools of naive T and B cells; and increases in the number of memory and effector T and B cells. In particular, an accumulation of late differentiated effector T cells, commonly associated with cytomegalovirus infection, contributes to a decline in the capacity of the adaptive immune system to respond to novel antigens. Consequently, vaccine responsiveness is compromised in the elderly, especially frail patients. Strategies to address the effects of immunosenescence include ensuring that seroprotective antibody levels against preventable infectious diseases are maintained throughout adulthood, and improving diet and exercise to address the effects of frailty. New vaccines are being developed, such as intradermal and high-dose vaccines for influenza, to improve the efficacy of immunization in the elderly. In the future, the development and use of markers of immunosenescence to identify patients who may have impaired responses to vaccination, as well as the use of end-points other than antibody titers to assess vaccine efficacy, may help to reduce morbidity and mortality due to infections in the elderly.

Immunosenescence of ageing.
            (Gruver et al., 2007) Download
Ageing is a complex process that negatively impacts the development of the immune system and its ability to function. The mechanisms that underlie these age-related defects are broad and range from defects in the haematopoietic bone marrow to defects in peripheral lymphocyte migration, maturation and function. The thymus is a central lymphoid organ responsible for production of naïve T cells, which play a vital role in mediating both cellular and humoral immunity. Chronic involution of the thymus gland is thought to be one of the major contributing factors to loss of immune function with increasing age. It has recently been demonstrated that thymic atrophy is mediated by a shift from a stimulatory to a suppressive cytokine microenvironment. In this review we present an overview of the morphological, cellular and biochemical changes that have been implicated in the decline of thymic and peripheral immune function with ageing. We conclude with the clinical implications of age-associated immunosenescence to vaccine development for tumours and infectious disease. A fundamental understanding of the complex mechanisms by which ageing attenuates immune function will enable translational research teams to develop new therapies and vaccines specifically aimed at overcoming these defects in immunological function in the aged.

The immune system and the impact of zinc during aging.
            (Haase and Rink, 2009) Download
The trace element zinc is essential for the immune system, and zinc deficiency affects multiple aspects of innate and adaptive immunity. There are remarkable parallels in the immunological changes during aging and zinc deficiency, including a reduction in the activity of the thymus and thymic hormones, a shift of the T helper cell balance toward T helper type 2 cells, decreased response to vaccination, and impaired functions of innate immune cells. Many studies confirm a decline of zinc levels with age. Most of these studies do not classify the majority of elderly as zinc deficient, but even marginal zinc deprivation can affect immune function. Consequently, oral zinc supplementation demonstrates the potential to improve immunity and efficiently downregulates chronic inflammatory responses in the elderly. These data indicate that a wide prevalence of marginal zinc deficiency in elderly people may contribute to immunosenescence.

The 21st century epidemic: infections as inductors of neuro-degeneration associated with Alzheimer's Disease.
            (Licastro et al., 2014) Download
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a complex disease resulting in neurodegeneration and cognitive impairment. Investigations on environmental factors implicated in AD are scarce and the etiology of the disease remains up to now obscure. The disease's pathogenesis may be multi-factorial and different etiological factors may converge during aging and induce an activation of brain microglia and macrophages. This microglia priming will result in chronic neuro-inflammation under chronic antigen activation. Infective agents may prime and drive iper-activation of microglia and be partially responsible of the induction of brain inflammation and decline of cognitive performances. Age-associated immune dis-functions induced by chronic sub-clinical infections appear to substantially contribute to the appearance of neuro-inflammation in the elderly. Individual predisposition to less efficient immune responses is another relevant factor contributing to impaired regulation of inflammatory responses and accelerated cognitive decline. Life-long virus infection may play a pivotal role in activating peripheral and central inflammatory responses and in turn contributing to increased cognitive impairment in preclinical and clinical AD.

Nutrition, diet and immunosenescence.
            (Maijó et al., 2014) Download
Ageing is characterized by immunosenescence and the progressive decline in immunity in association with an increased frequency of infections and chronic disease. This complex process affects both the innate and adaptive immune systems with a progressive decline in most immune cell populations and defects in activation resulting in loss of function. Although host genetics and environmental factors, such as stress, exercise and diet can impact on the onset or course of immunosenescence, the mechanisms involved are largely unknown. This review focusses on identifying the most significant aspects of immunosenescence and on the evidence that nutritional intervention might delay this process, and consequently improve the quality of life of the elderly.

The Impact of Immunosenescence on Pulmonary Disease.
            (Murray and Chotirmall, 2015) Download
The global population is aging with significant gains in life expectancy particularly in the developed world. Consequently, greater focus on understanding the processes that underlie physiological aging has occurred. Key facets of advancing age include genomic instability, telomere shortening, epigenetic changes, and declines in immune function termed immunosenescence. Immunosenescence and its associated chronic low grade systemic "inflamm-aging" contribute to the development and progression of pulmonary disease in older individuals. These physiological processes predispose to pulmonary infection and confer specific and unique clinical phenotypes observed in chronic respiratory disease including late-onset asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and pulmonary fibrosis. Emerging concepts of the gut and airway microbiome further complicate the interrelationship between host and microorganism particularly from an immunological perspective and especially so in the setting of immunosenescence. This review focuses on our current understanding of the aging process, immunosenescence, and how it can potentially impact on various pulmonary diseases and the human microbiome.


Immunosenescence and Challenges of Vaccination against Influenza in the Aging Population.
            (Reber et al., 2012) Download
Influenza is an important contributor to morbidity and mortality worldwide. Accumulation of genetic mutations termed antigenic drift, allows influenza viruses to inflict yearly epidemics that may result in 250,000 to 500,000 deaths annually. Over 90% of influenza-related deaths occur in the older adult population. This is at least in part a result of increasing dysregulation of the immune system with age, termed immunosenescence. This dysregulation results in reduced capacity to cope with infections and decreased responsiveness to vaccination. The older adult population is in dire need of improved vaccines capable of eliciting protective responses in the face of a waning immune system. This review focuses on the status of immunity, responses to influenza vaccination, and strategies that are currently being explored to elicit enhanced immune responses in this high risk population.

Mucosal Immunosenescence in the Gastrointestinal Tract: A Mini-Review.
            (Sato et al., 2015) Download
It has been shown that pathogen-specific secretory IgA (SIgA) antibody (Ab) is the major player at mucosal surfaces for host defense. However, alterations in the mucosal immune system occur in advanced aging, which results in a failure of induction of SIgA Abs for the protection from infectious diseases. Signs of mucosal senescence first appear in the gut immune system. Further, changes in the intestinal microbiota most likely influence mucosal immunity. To overcome the immunological aging decline in mucosal immunity, several adjuvant systems including mucosal dendritic cell targeting have been shown to be attractive and effective immunological strategies. Similarly, microfold (M) cells involved in the antigen (Ag) uptake are ideal targets for facilitating Ag-specific mucosal immune responses. However, the numbers of M cells are reduced in aged mice. In this regard, Spi-B, an essential transcription factor for the functional and structural differentiation of M cells, could be a potent strategy for the induction of effective mucosal immunity in aging.

Age-associated changes in immune function: impact of vitamin E intervention and the underlying mechanisms.
            (Wu and Meydani, 2014) Download
Numerous studies have provided evidence suggesting that aging is associated with significant adverse changes in the immune system, a phenomenon often called immunosenescence, which may be responsible for an observed increase in morbidity and mortality from infectious disease and cancer in the elderly. While a variety of immune cells are known to be affected by aging, declined T cell function is the most striking and best characterized feature of immunosenescence. Both intrinsic changes in T cells and alteration in extrinsic factors are involved. Nutritional intervention has been promoted as a promising approach to delaying/reversing immunosenescence, and vitamin E is one of the best studied candidates in this regard. While vitamin E deficiency is rarely seen, both animal and human studies suggest that intake above currently recommended levels may help restore T cell function which becomes impaired with aging. This effect of vitamin E can be accomplished by directly impacting T cells as well as indirectly, by inhibiting production of prostaglandin E2, a T cell-suppressing lipid mediator known to increase with aging. Vitamin E-induced enhancements of immune functions may have significant clinical implications since vitamin E supplementation has been shown to be associated with both enhanced resistance to influenza infection in aged mice and reduced risk of acquiring upper respiratory infections in elderly human subjects. With a focus on our own work, this paper provides an overview on the beneficial effects of increased vitamin E intake on age-related decline in T cell function, the underlying mechanisms, and its clinical application in reducing the risk of infection.

Decreasing pro-inflammatory cytokine and reversing the immunosenescence with extracts of Pu-erh tea in senescence accelerated mouse (SAM).
            (Zhang et al., 2012) Download
Immunosenescence, the progressive decline of adaptive immunity and chronic inflammation with ageing has been demonstrated to be the main factor responsible for infections, cancer and autoimmune conditions in the elderly. Senescence-accelerated mouse (SAM) was used to study the protective effects of Pu-erh tea in the elderly. The senile-prone sub-strain, SAM-P8 mice were administered individually with ripened or crude Pu-erh tea at 125, 250 or 500mg/kg. The results showed that Pu-erh tea significantly increased the fractions of naïve T lymphocytes, CD8(+)CD28(+) T lymphocytes and NK cells in the peripheral blood, but decreased the levels of IL-6 in aged mice. These data suggested that the Pu-erh tea reversed the immunosenescence by restoring the immune deficiency and decreasing pro-inflammatory cytokine. Thus, long term drinking of Pu-erh tea may be beneficial for the aged population in terms of increasing the body's resistance to infection and cancer.

Extracts of Cistanche deserticola Can Antagonize Immunosenescence and Extend Life Span in Senescence-Accelerated Mouse Prone 8 (SAM-P8) Mice.
            (Zhang et al., 2014) Download
The senescence accelerated mouse prone 8 substrain (SAM-P8), widely accepted as an animal model for studying aging and antiaging drugs, was used to examine the effects of dietary supplementation with extracts of Cistanche deserticola (ECD) which has been used extensively in traditional Chinese medicine because of its perceived ability to promote immune function in the elderly. Eight-month-old male SAM-P8 mice were treated with ECD by daily oral administrations for 4 weeks. The results showed that dietary supplementation of 150 mg/kg and 450 mg/kg of ECD could extend the life span measured by Kaplan-Meier survival analysis in dose-dependent manner. Dietary supplementation of SAM-P8 mice for 4 weeks with 100, 500, and 2500 mg/kg of ECD was shown to result in significant increases in both naive T and natural killer cells in blood and spleen cell populations. In contrast, peripheral memory T cells and proinflammatory cytokine, IL-6 in serum, were substantially decreased in the mice that ingested 100 and 500 mg/kg of ECD daily. Additionally, Sca-1 positive cells, the recognized progenitors of peripheral naive T cells, were restored in parallel. Our results provide clear experimental support for long standing clinical observational studies showing that Cistanche deserticola possesses significant effects in extending life span and suggest this is achieved by antagonizing immunosenescence.



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Bauer, ME, et al. (2013), ‘Psychoneuroendocrine interventions aimed at attenuating immunosenescence: a review.’, Biogerontology, 14 (1), 9-20. PubMed: 23283592
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Capri, M, et al. (2006), ‘Complexity of anti-immunosenescence strategies in humans.’, Artif Organs, 30 (10), 730-42. PubMed: 17026572
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Licastro, F, et al. (2014), ‘The 21st century epidemic: infections as inductors of neuro-degeneration associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.’, Immun Ageing, 11 (1), 22. PubMed: 25516763
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Murray, MA and SH Chotirmall (2015), ‘The Impact of Immunosenescence on Pulmonary Disease.’, Mediators Inflamm, 2015 692546. PubMed: 26199462
Reber, AJ, et al. (2012), ‘Immunosenescence and Challenges of Vaccination against Influenza in the Aging Population.’, Aging Dis, 3 (1), 68-90. PubMed: 22500272
Sato, S, H Kiyono, and K Fujihashi (2015), ‘Mucosal Immunosenescence in the Gastrointestinal Tract: A Mini-Review.’, Gerontology, 61 (4), 336-42. PubMed: 25531743
Wu, D and SN Meydani (2014), ‘Age-associated changes in immune function: impact of vitamin E intervention and the underlying mechanisms.’, Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets, 14 (4), 283-89. PubMed: 25244230
Zhang, K, et al. (2014), ‘Extracts of Cistanche deserticola Can Antagonize Immunosenescence and Extend Life Span in Senescence-Accelerated Mouse Prone 8 (SAM-P8) Mice.’, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2014 601383. PubMed: 24523825
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