The association of elevated reactive oxygen species levels from neutrophils with low-grade inflammation in the elderly

Immun Ageing. 2008 Oct 24;5:13. doi: 10.1186/1742-4933-5-13.


Background: Reactive oxygen species (ROS), including free radicals, oxygen ions, and peroxides, are implicated in cell damage. The objective of this study was to investigate whether the spontaneous production of ROS from neutrophils changes with age and is associated with the conventional inflammatory markers.

Results: Thirty-seven elderly subjects (median age, 87, range 70-95 years) and 22 young subjects (median age, 26, range 21-37 years) participated in this study. Circulating levels of C-reactive protein, serum amyloid A, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6, IL-8, monocyte chemotactic protein-1, and heat shock protein (HSP)70 were measured with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. The N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine and lipopolysaccharide-stimulated ROS of neutrophils were quantified by flow cytometry. Both spontaneous ROS production and circulating levels of inflammatory markers were higher in the elderly group than in the younger group. In addition, spontaneous ROS production by neutrophils was negatively associated with HSP70 in plasma. We could not find the association between spontaneous ROS production by neutrophils and the other inflammatory markers including cytokines.

Conclusion: The results suggest that spontaneous ROS production from neutrophils may increase with age and represent the different aspect of age-associated immune dysregulation.