The demographic imperatives of the 1990s and the coming decades point to a growing need for research on aging. Investigations of the mechanisms underlying age-related decrease in host defenses have been the focus of many clinical studies on immune function of the elderly1-3. Moreover, it is now estimated that 5% of the elderly population suffer from some form of autoimmune disease contributing to increased morbidity and, at times. to increased mortality in the aged population4-10 and that 10-15% of seemingly healthy individuals over the age of 60 have a significant level of autoantibodies in their serum11,12. The incidence of autoimmunity tends to increase in the aged population as compared with race- and sex-matched young adults4,11,12. Some immunological explanations of this phenomenon may include (i) a repeated or prolonged insult by endogenous auto-antigen, or (ii) molecular mimicry with environmental antigens, or (iii) decrease in the generation of suppressor cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy