Human microbiome investigations now provide evidence that changes in the microbiome over time and their interaction with the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems are associated with a wide array of disorders. Human immunological studies typically absent a microbiome consideration in their investigations. An area of recent exploration is the role of the microbiome as a critical partner in the development and function of the human immune system in aging. It is well known that immunologic maturation is influenced by a lifetime of interactions of the host with its companion microbiome. It is generally not well recognized that intestinal microbes play an essential role in the development and expansion of gut mucosal and systemic immune function. Gut microbial communities of elderly people have different composition and behavior compared to healthy younger adults. Comorbidities associated with microbial pathogens and an aberrant immune system tend to increase with aging. This review underscores the impact of the human–microbiome interface on the development and function of the immune system and on immunosenescence. These changes have important implications regarding health and health system utilization in the elderly population.
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