Alterations in immune functions during normal aging and Alzheimer's disease

Psychiatry Res. 1999 Jan 18;85(1):71-80. doi: 10.1016/s0165-1781(98)00130-9.


It is thought that aging induces immune changes, which are related to the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease (DAT). In this study, the total number of leukocytes, white blood cell differentiation, mitogen-induced lymphocytic proliferation, neutrophil phagocytosis and superoxide release, and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production by mitogen-stimulated whole blood cultures were comparatively investigated between healthy adults (range 22-45 years) and healthy elderly volunteers (range 70-91 years), and between DAT patients (range 56-94 years) and age-matched control subjects. Healthy elderly volunteers showed significantly lower phytohemagglutinin (PHA)-induced lymphocyte proliferation and percentage and absolute number of basophils than young volunteers. In normal volunteers, there were significant and negative correlations between age and the number of basophils. Patients with DAT showed a trend toward significantly higher PHA-induced lymphocyte proliferation and significantly decreased percentage and absolute number of large unstained cells than healthy volunteers. In DAT patients, the total number of leukocytes and the percentage and number of neutrophils were positively correlated with age. All other immune-inflammatory variables were not significantly altered either by the aging process or DAT. The present study suggests that aging and DAT may differently affect some immune variables.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / immunology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis
  • Alzheimer Disease / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / immunology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prostaglandins / immunology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales


  • Prostaglandins