Chapter 32 : Growing Old and Immunity to Viruses

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This chapter deals with immunity to viruses in old age, and describes broad features of several infections from the standpoint of general host-pathogen interaction. It briefly reviews known and well-described changes in the immune system with aging, and focuses upon those whose relevance and reproducibility is firmly established. Age-related changes have been described both in cells, including neutrophils, dendritic cells (DCs). DCs are key antigen-presenting cells that function at the interface between innate and adaptive immunity. Age-related defects in CD4 and CD8 T cells and B cells have been known for decades, and these are linked to impaired antibody production and cellular immunity. 2009). Aging impacts the ability to generate strong antiviral humoral immunity to influenza and other respiratory viruses, largely the consequence of defective CD4 T-cell help for B cells. It has been shown that CD8 T-cell memory to respiratory virus infections established in aged individuals is inferior to memory established in the young, although the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Despite the fact that vaccination efficacy wanes with aging, to this day there is not a single vaccine tailored towards addressing the specific needs of the elderly population. In some of the cases one will be able to boost preexisting or even heterologous immunity using memory cells.

Citation: Nikolich-Žugich J, Blackman M. 2011. Growing Old and Immunity to Viruses, p 403-411. In Kaufmann S, Rouse B, Sacks D (ed), The Immune Response to Infection. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816872.ch32
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