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Mech Ageing Dev. 2006 Aug;127(8):695-704. Epub 2006 Jun 5.

The immune risk phenotype is associated with IL-6 in the terminal decline stage: findings from the Swedish NONA immune longitudinal study of very late life functioning.

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Department of Natural Science and Biomedicine, School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University, Box 1026, 551 11 Jönköping, Sweden.


In the present NONA immune longitudinal study, we further examine the previously identified T cell immune risk phenotype (IRP), relative inflammatory activity, morbidity and 2-year mortality in very old individuals >90 years. T-cell subsets as well as the inflammatory markers IL-6, IL-10, C-reactive protein, transthyretin and albumin were evaluated. IRP and low-grade inflammation predicted 57% of observed deaths and 97% of survival over 2 years, and was not significantly affected by individuals' health status, suggesting that the physiological ageing processes of T-cell immunosenescence and low-grade inflammation are of primary importance in late life survival. IRP non-survivors showed only a minor inflammatory activity at baseline, but had in contrast to survivors developed increased activity at follow-up. The results suggest a sequence of stages for IRP individuals that begin with acquisition of CMV infection in earlier life, followed by generation of CD8+CD28- cells to control persistent CMV infection and eventually the development of an IRP. Intriguingly, we also found that rare individuals moved out of the IRP category by a process of immune suppression, including increases in IL-6 and IL-10 and decreases in the number of CD3+CD8+CD28- cells. The further characterisation of these exceptional individuals may allow insight into remedial approaches for those who remain in the IRP category until death.

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