Aging is often associated with a dysregulation of the immune system. We examined mitogen-stimulated production of interleukin (IL)-2 and proinflammatory cytokines, IL-1β and IL-6, in apparently healthy and generally well-nourished old versus young women. Subjects were screened for health using the SENIEUR protocol and a panel of laboratory tests for inflammation, as well as for the adequacy of nutritional status using criteria related to undernutrition, and protein, iron, vitamin B12, and folate status. Young (n = 26, age: 20-40 years) and old (n = 44, age: 62-88 years) cohorts did not differ on the number of circulating monocytes, granulocytes, B (CD19 +) cells, and T (CD3 +, CD4 +, and CD8 +) cells. No differences (P > 0.10) were seen between the two age groups in IL-2, IL-1β and IL-6 levels in whole blood cultures at 48 h after stimulation with PHA (5 mg/l). Furthermore, no age-related differences were noted in the absolute amounts (pg) of IL-1β and IL-6 after normalizing for circulating monocytes, B cells, or T cells (P > 0.10). Similarly, no age-related decline in absolute amount of IL-2 (pg) after normalizing for circulating T cells was noted (P > 0.10). Thus, contrary to most previous reports, our results do not support an increase in the production of proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β and IL-6, and a reduced production of IL-2 with aging when health and nutritional status are maintained. These findings support our previous results of no change in monocyte function and few alterations in acquired immune response in a carefully selected group of healthy and well-nourished elderly women.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental Biology