Aging and the immune system: An overview

J Immunol Methods. 2018 Dec:463:21-26. doi: 10.1016/j.jim.2018.08.005. Epub 2018 Aug 14.


The world is witnessing a rapid demographic shift towards an older population, a trend with major medical, social, economic and political implications. Aging is a multifaceted process, involving numerous molecular and cellular mechanisms in the context of different organ systems. A crucial component of aging is a set of functional and structural alterations in the immune system that can manifest as a decreased ability to fight infection, diminished response to vaccination, increased incidence of cancer, higher prevalence of autoimmunity and constitutive low-grade inflammation, among others. In addition to cell-intrinsic changes in both innate and adaptive immune cells, alterations in the stromal microenvironment in primary and secondary lymphoid organs play an important role in age-associated immune dysfunction. This article will provide a broad overview of these phenomena and point out some of their clinical and therapeutic implications.

Keywords: Cell Intrinsic; Hallmark; Immunosenescence; Inflammaging; Repertoire.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • Aging / immunology*
  • Aging / pathology
  • Animals
  • Autoimmunity*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Lymphoid Tissue / immunology*
  • Lymphoid Tissue / pathology
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology