Macrophages in age-related chronic inflammatory diseases

NPJ Aging Mech Dis. 2016 Jul 28;2:16018. doi: 10.1038/npjamd.2016.18. eCollection 2016.


Chronic inflammation is the common pathological basis for such age-associated diseases as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's disease. A multitude of bodily changes occur with aging that contribute to the initiation and development of inflammation. In particular, the immune system of elderly individuals often exhibits diminished efficiency and fidelity, termed immunosenescence. But, although immune responses to new pathogens and vaccines are impaired, immunosenescence is also characterized by a basal systemic inflammatory state. This alteration in immune system function likely promotes chronic inflammation. Changes in the tissue microenvironment, such as the accumulation of cell debris, and systemic changes in metabolic and hormonal signals, also likely contribute to the development of chronic inflammation. Monocyte/macrophage lineage cells are crucial to these age-associated changes, which culminate in the development of chronic inflammatory diseases. In this review, we will summarize the diverse physiological and pathological roles of macrophages in the chronic inflammation underlying age-associated diseases.

Publication types

  • Review