Heterogeneity of immune responsiveness in healthy elderly subjects

Wilma Barcellini, Maria Orietta Borghi, Chiara Sguotti, Roberto Palmieri, Daniela Frasca, Pier Luigi Meroni, Gino Doria, Carlo Zanussi

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We studied a group of healthy elderly subjects (satisfying the SENIEUR Protocol admission criteria), chosen as a model of age-associated immune deficiency on the basis of their reduced skin reactivity to recall antigens. Results show that aged subjects, taken as a whole, display impaired T-cell functions: reduced blastogenetic responses to mitogens, IL-2 production, responsiveness to exogenous IL-2, and percentage of Tac positive blasts. However, the age-associated immune defect shows a wide range of impairment, even in a relatively homogeneous group of anergic/hypoergic subjects. In fact, a considerable proportion of our elderly subjects displays responses comparable with those of adult controls. These observations suggest that (a) immune deficiency is not a characteristic of aging per se; (b) cutaneous delayed hypersensitivity is not a criterion sensitive enough to identify people with age-associated immune deficit; and (c) more than one test is required to evaluate T-cell impairment in aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-151
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Immunology

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    Barcellini, W., Borghi, M. O., Sguotti, C., Palmieri, R., Frasca, D., Meroni, P. L., Doria, G., & Zanussi, C. (1988). Heterogeneity of immune responsiveness in healthy elderly subjects. Clinical Immunology and Immunopathology, 47(2), 142-151. https://doi.org/10.1016/0090-1229(88)90067-0