Inflammation and Immunity

The scientists at the Barshop Institute study how age affects immune function and inflammation. Aging causes various functional and structural modifications in the immune system that can further result in increased susceptibility to infections, reduced vaccine response and increased frequency of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. In humans, aging is correlated with a decrease in cellularity of the bone marrow, and decline in both innate and adaptive immune responses. With increased age, innate immune system is characterized by dysregulated inflammatory responses that may further contribute to pro-inflammatory environment. This inflammation further can result in failure of innate immune activation in response to pathogens and vaccines. The adaptive immunity declines with age due to thymus atrophy and dysfunction, that further results in diminished T cell production and immunodeficiencies, including decreased responsiveness to infection and vaccination. Hence understanding the molecular and cellular immune mechanisms is crucial to improve immune responses during aging.