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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1986 Sep;34(9):649-54.

Absolute peripheral blood lymphocyte count and subsequent mortality of elderly men. The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging.


In this 16-year longitudinal study of 105 healthy elderly men, we analyzed one aspect of immunosenescence--a decline in the absolute number of peripheral blood lymphocytes--with particular reference to its relationship with subsequent mortality. It was found that there was a significantly (P less than .01) lower absolute lymphocyte count (1432 +/- 55/mm3; mean +/- SEM) within three years of death when compared with five years (1719 +/- 89/mm3) or 10 years (1715 +/- 98/mm3) before death. There was no relationship between this decrease in lymphocytes and age at death, smoking status, or prior cardiac illness. Previous cross-sectional studies have yielded conflicting data on age-related decreases in lymphocytes which may have been the result of an unrecognized selection process that either eliminated or included subjects who were close to death.

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