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Discov Med. 2012 Jun;13(73):451-60.

Inflammation in aging: cause, effect, or both?

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Department of Pathology, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, Vermont 05405, USA.


Aging is a progressive degenerative process tightly integrated with inflammation. Cause and effect are not clear. A number of theories have been developed that attempt to define the role of chronic inflammation in aging: redox stress, mitochondrial damage, immunosenescence, endocrinosenescence, epigenetic modifications, and age-related diseases. However, no single theory explains all aspects of aging; instead, it is likely that multiple processes contribute and that all are intertwined with inflammatory responses. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients undergo a premature aging phenomenon which may provide clues to better elucidate the nature of inflammation in aging. Environmental and lifestyle effectors of inflammation may also contribute to modulation of both inflammation and age-related dysfunction.

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