Aging and the Immune Response Essay by Research Group

Aging and the Immune Response
Discusses the new field of immunogerontology which explores the decline of the aging adult's immune system.
# 26233 | 1,416 words | 9 sources | MLA | 2002 | US

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At the beginning of the millennium life expectancy doubled to approximately 80 years of age, compared to what it was in 1900. This paper studies the new field of immunogerontology that explores the immune system in the aging adult. Recent research has indicated that the immune systems of aged people undergo characteristic changes, generally in the direction of decreased immune competence. As the research presented in this paper reveals, aging affects many aspects of the immune process, and since the immune system interacts with every system of the body it becomes important to have a well-developed understanding of the mechanisms related to the breakdown of this system in the later years of life.

From the Paper:

"Malnutrition in aging populations is another mechanism, which contributes to the decline in the efficiency of the signal transduction system and as a result leads to the degradation of the immune response. Calcium is an integral part of the signaling mechanism and the biochemical pathways that compose it. Enzymes necessary for T cell proliferation are rendered useless in the absence of calcium as shown by Miller et al (1996). Measurements made in the lab of IL-2 production were shown to be substantially lower than in T cells belonging to younger individuals. It is important to remember that IL-2 is produced after the antigen binds to the receptor-binding site and is responsible for promoting the proliferation of the T cell. Though these experiments are mainly carried out on mice, the biochemical pathways are very similar and results tend to indicate that immunodeficiency in the aging adult is due in part to the decline in calcium concentrations. Other nutrients such as zinc and vitamin E are also important in the proper functioning of the immune system affecting cytokine production and imparting a protective role from damage by free radicals respectively (Moriguchi, 1998)."

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