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Curr Opin Immunol. 2013 Aug;25(4):498-503. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2013.05.018. Epub 2013 Jun 25.

Immunosenescence: a product of the environment?

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology and Immunology, University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX 76107, USA.


The major function of the immune system is to provide protection against pathogens, in order to prevent infections and potential death. However, with increasing age the immune system undergoes alterations culminating in a progressive deterioration in the ability to respond to infection and vaccination. The precise mechanisms associated with immunosenescence have not been fully elucidated although extensive analyses have suggested that intrinsic defects within immune cells are potentially involved. Despite the stromal niche playing a critical role in the development and activation of immune cells, the role of extrinsic factors within the microenvironment in immunosenescence is less well understood. Moreover, emerging evidence suggests that the aged microenvironment contributes significantly to the age-associated decline of immune function and additionally may offer a potential target for rejuvenating the immune system. Indeed, rejuvenation strategies which have targeted the thymic stromal microenvironment have proved to be successful in recovering thymic function in the aged.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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