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Immunol Rev. 2005 Jun;205:7-17.

Effects of aging on early B- and T-cell development.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Lymphocyte production in the bone marrow and the thymus is reduced during aging, but why this decline occurs has not been fully elucidated. The ability to isolate hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells using sophisticated flow cytometric strategies and to manipulate them in vitro and in vivo has provided insights into the effects of aging on primary lymphopoiesis. These analyses have showed that intrinsic changes in hematopoietic precursors that affect their proliferative potential are one factor that contributes to the age-related decline in B- and T-cell production. This and other age-related defects may be exacerbated by changes in the lymphopoietic support potential of the bone marrow and thymic microenvironments as well as by age-induced fluctuations in the production of various endocrine hormones. Particular attention with regard to the latter point has focused on changes in the production of sex steroids, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor-I. The present review summarizes recent studies of how age-related perturbations affect primary lymphopoiesis and highlights how the data necessitate the reevaluation of a number of existing paradigms.

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