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Aging Cell. 2003 Jun;2(3):159-64.

Age-dependent change in reactive oxygen species and nitric oxide generation by rat alveolar macrophages.

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  • 1School of Science and Technology, National University of General San Martin, Alem 390 (1653) San Martin, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Immunosenescence is an age-associated dysregulation of the immune function, which contributes to increased susceptibility to disease in the elderly. Alveolar macrophages (AM) are known phagocytes that generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide (NO), essential mediators for host defence. We studied phagocytosis, ROS and NO production in AM obtained from young, adult and senescent rats (1-2, 9-12 and 18-24 months old, respectively) after exposure to lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 0.1-10 microg mL(-1)), 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate (TPA, 0.1 microg mL(-1)) or LPS + TPA in culture. Phagocytosis was significantly lower in control AM from adult rats than in AM from young animals. Nevertheless, AM from adult animals pretreated with LPS exhibited higher phagocytic capacity than AM from younger animals. ROS was identified by the NBT test at single cell level and quantified by automated image analysis. When TPA was added to all three populations, AM from adult and senescent animals responded more than AM from young animals. All LPS-stimulated AM produce more NO than controls. However, NO production increased three-, four- and two-fold in young, adult and senescent animals, respectively. Our results demonstrate that AM from young, adult and senescent animals display differential responsiveness to inflammatory mediators. Therefore, aging processes markedly affect AM metabolic functions and may further compromise the lung immune defence response, increasing adverse long-term health effects.

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