Immunosenescence: emerging challenges for an ageing population

Immunology. 2007 Apr;120(4):435-46. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2567.2007.02555.x. Epub 2007 Feb 15.


It is now becoming apparent that the immune system undergoes age-associated alterations, which accumulate to produce a progressive deterioration in the ability to respond to infections and to develop immunity after vaccination, both of which are associated with a higher mortality rate in the elderly. Immunosenescence, defined as the changes in the immune system associated with age, has been gathering interest in the scientific and health-care sectors alike. The rise in its recognition is both pertinent and timely given the increasing average age and the corresponding failure to increase healthy life expectancy. This review attempts to highlight the age-dependent defects in the innate and adaptive immune systems. While discussing the mechanisms that contribute to immunosenescence, with emphasis on the extrinsic factors, particular attention will be focused on thymic involution. Finally, we illuminate potential therapies that could be employed to help us live a longer, fuller and healthier life.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / immunology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Immunity, Cellular / physiology
  • Immunity, Innate / physiology