Inflammatory Networks in Ageing, Age-Related Diseases and Longevity

Mech Ageing Dev. 2007 Jan;128(1):83-91. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2006.11.015. Epub 2006 Nov 21.

Abstract

Inflammation is considered a response set by the tissues in response to injury elicited by trauma or infection. It is a complex network of molecular and cellular interactions that facilitates a return to physiological homeostasis and tissue repair. The individual response against infection and trauma is also determined by gene variability. Ageing is accompanied by chronic low-grade inflammation state clearly showed by 2-4-fold increase in serum levels of inflammatory mediators. A wide range of factors has been claimed to contribute to this state; however, the most important role seems to be played by the chronic antigenic stress, which affects immune system thorough out life with a progressive activation of macrophages and related cells. This pro-inflammatory status, interacting with the genetic background, potentially triggers the onset of age-related inflammatory diseases as atherosclerosis. Thus, the analysis of polymorphisms of the genes that are key nodes of the natural immunity response might clarify the patho-physiology of age-related inflammatory diseases as atherosclerosis. On the other hand, centenarians are characterized by marked delay or escape from age-associated diseases that, on average, cause mortality at earlier ages. In addition, centenarian offspring have increased likelihood of surviving to 100 years and show a reduced prevalence of age-associated diseases, as cardiovascular disease (CVD) and less prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors. So, genes involved in CVD may play an opposite role in human longevity. Thus, the model of centenarians can be used to understand the role of these genes in successful and unsuccessful ageing. Accordingly, we report the results of several studies in which the frequencies of pro-inflammatory alleles were significantly higher in patients affected by infarction and lower in centenarians whereas age-related controls displayed intermediate values. These findings point to a strong relationship between the genetics of inflammation, successful ageing and the control of cardiovascular disease at least in men, in which these studies were performed. These data are also briefly discussed in the light of antagonistic pleiotropy theory and in order to pursuit a pharmacogenomics approach.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / pathology*
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Longevity / physiology*