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Immunity and Aging


In the elderly, many alterations of innate and acquired immunity have been described and viewed as deleterious, hence the term immunosenescence. Immunosenescence is a complex process involving multiple reorganizational and developmentally regulated changes, rather than simple unidirectional decline of complete immune function. On the other hand, some immunological parameters are commonly notably reduced in the elderly, and reciprocally good function is tightly correlated to health status. Whereas innate immunity is relatively well preserved in elderly, acquired immunity is more susceptible due to both the functional decline associated with the passage of time, and to antigen burden to which an individual has been exposed during his/her lifetime. This constant activation of T cells contributes to the proinflammatory state typical in elderly, called inflammaging. This proinflammatory status, interacting with the genetic background, potentially triggers the onset of age-related inflammatory diseases.