The process of aging changes the interplay of the immune, endocrine and nervous systems

Mech Ageing Dev. 2001 Sep 30;122(14):1591-611. doi: 10.1016/s0047-6374(01)00289-5.


The immune, endocrine and nervous systems interact with each other by means of cytokines, hormones and neurotransmitters. Interaction is dependent on specific receptors and respective signaling pathways in target cells. During aging, changes occur on many levels of these global systems which depend on oxidative damage, non-enzymatic glycosylation, mitochondrial mutations, defects in cell cycle control, mitotic dysregulation, genome instability, telomere shortening and other chromosomal pathologies. An alteration of the numerical value of a parameter of one system can lead to changes of the numerical value of a variable of another system. In a non-linear dynamic process these changes can contribute to the aging phenotype. Although it is extremely difficult to dissect linear interrelations of three global systems during aging, this review attempts to identify some simple linear pathways. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that chronic inflammatory diseases may accelerate the aging process. This review also reveals that new statistical and computational methods are necessary to unravel the complexity of the aging process.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / immunology
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Chronic Disease
  • Endocrine System / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena*