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J Immunol. 2013 Feb 15;190(4):1746-57. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1201213. Epub 2013 Jan 14.

Reduced neutrophil chemotaxis and infiltration contributes to delayed resolution of cutaneous wound infection with advanced age.

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Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Division, Maywood, IL 60153, USA.


Advanced age is associated with alterations in innate and adaptive immune responses, which contribute to an increased risk of infection in elderly patients. Coupled with this immune dysfunction, elderly patients demonstrate impaired wound healing with elevated rates of wound dehiscence and chronic wounds. To evaluate how advanced age alters the host immune response to cutaneous wound infection, we developed a murine model of cutaneous Staphylococcus aureus wound infection in young (3-4 mo) and aged (18-20 mo) BALB/c mice. Aged mice exhibit increased bacterial colonization and delayed wound closure over time compared with young mice. These differences were not attributed to alterations in wound neutrophil or macrophage TLR2 or FcγRIII expression, or age-related changes in phagocytic potential and bactericidal activity. To evaluate the role of chemotaxis in our model, we first examined in vivo chemotaxis in the absence of wound injury to KC, a neutrophil chemokine. In response to a s.c. injection of KC, aged mice recruited fewer neutrophils at increasing doses of KC compared with young mice. This paralleled our model of wound infection, where diminished neutrophil and macrophage recruitment was observed in aged mice relative to young mice despite equivalent levels of KC, MIP-2, and MCP-1 chemokine levels at the wound site. This reduced leukocyte accumulation was also associated with lower levels of ICAM-1 in wounds from aged mice at early time points. These age-mediated defects in early neutrophil recruitment may alter the dynamics of the inflammatory phase of wound healing, impacting macrophage recruitment, bacterial clearance, and wound closure.

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