Model systems to the rescue: The relationship between aging and innate immunity

Commun Integr Biol. 2010 Sep;3(5):409-14. doi: 10.4161/cib.3.5.12561.


In humans, there is an interdependent relationship between aging and immune system function, with each process affecting the outcome of the other. Aging can trigger immune system dysfunction, and alterations in the immune response can in turn affect human lifespan. Genetic experiments in model organisms such as C. elegans and Drosophila have led to the identification of numerous genes and signaling pathways that can modulate organismal lifespan and immune system function. Importantly, many of these signaling pathways exhibit conserved function in multiple species, including mammals, suggesting that the research in these simpler models could one day pave the way for the modulation of aging and immunity in humans. Here, we review the recent progress in our understanding of aging, innate immunity and the interaction between these two processes using these simple model systems. Additionally, we discuss what this may tell us about aging and the innate immune system in humans.

Keywords: C. elegans; aging; germline; innate immunity; insulin; lifespan.