Impairment of lymphocyte activities in depressed aged subjects

Luisa Guidi, Carlo Bartoloni, Daniela Frasca, Leonardo Antico, Roberto Pili, Flavio Cursi, E. Tempesta, Carlo Rumi, Edoardo Menini, Pierugo Carbonin, Gino Doria, Gino Gambassi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Lymphocyte activities were determined in a population of 26 institutionalized aged subjects, selected as healthy according to the SENIEUR protocol and previously reported to display immunological and endocrinological abnormalities correlated with depressive disorders. The lymphocyte mitotic response to PHA, which was reduced in aged as compared to adult subjects, was found to be significantly lower and negatively correlated with the depression score in the elderly subjects. In supernatants of PHA-stimulated lymphocyte culture from aged subjects, IL-2, IL-4 and γ-IFN levels were very low and more severely affected in the depressed aged group. Each cytokine production was negatively correlated with age and depression score. NK activity was lower in the aged and it could be augmented by the addition of IL-2 or α-IFN, even though to a lesser extent than in the adult subjects. The nondepressed aged display higher levels of IL-2 inducible NK activity than the depressed aged subjects. IL-2 and α-IFN stimulated NK activities were negatively correlated with depression score. The present work indicates that the psychological status could affect lymphocyte reactivity in the aged. Given the relatively high frequency of affective disorders in these subjects, the psychological status should be considered in studies of immune senescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-24
Number of pages12
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Interferon
  • Interleukins
  • Lymphocyte blastogenesis
  • NK activity
  • Psychoneuroendocrinoimmunology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Biochemistry
  • Developmental Biology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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