Nutrition plays a crucial role in immune function. Most studies on age- associated changes in immunocompetence in healthy adults did not examine the nutritional status of participants extensively. Inadequate nutritional status may confound the relationship of aging and immune response. The purpose of this study was to examine age-related changes in parameters of acquired and innate immunity in healthy and generally well-nourished older (62-88 years) versus younger (20-40 years) women. Subjects were screened for participation using the health criteria of the SENIEUR protocol as well as a number of nutrition criteria related to undernutrition, and protein, iron, vitamin B12, and folate status. Young and old women did not differ in total T (CD3+), T-helper (CD4+), or T-cytotoxic (CD8+) cell number. However, older women tended to have lower T-cell proliferation response to concanavalin A (P<0.10) and significantly reduced response to phytohemagglutinin (P≤0.05). No age-related changes were noted in natural killer cell number or cytotoxicity. Phagocytosis and subsequent oxidative burst activity also did not differ between young and old women. Most immune parameters were not compromised with aging in this cohort of apparently healthy, well-nourished women. These findings highlight the importance of simultaneous examination of health and nutritional status in studies of immune function with aging.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental Biology