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2012, Vol.3  No.1
Influenza is an important contributor to morbidity and mortality worldwide. Accumulation of genetic mutations termed antigenic drift, allows influenza viruses to inflict yearly epidemics that may result in 250,000 to 500,000 deaths annually. Over 90% of influenza-related deaths occur in the older adult population. This is at least in part a result of increasing dysregulation of the immune system with age, termed immunosenescence. This dysregulation results in reduced capacity to cope with infections and decreased responsiveness to vaccination. The older adult population is in dire need of improved vaccines capable of eliciting protective responses in the face of a waning immune system. This review focuses on the status of immunity, responses to influenza vaccination, and strategies that are currently being explored to elicit enhanced immu [Detail] ...

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  • Table of Content
      01 January 2012, Volume 3 Issue 1 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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    Aging Successfully: a Research and Public Health Priority for the 21st Century
    Abbe N. Vallejo
    Aging and Disease. 2012, 3 (1): 1-4.  
    Abstract   HTML   PDF (310KB) ( 1110 )
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    Successful Aging as a Continuum of Functional Independence: Lessons from Physical Disability Models of Aging
    Kristin A. Lowry,Abbe N. Vallejo,Stephanie A. Studenski
    Aging and Disease. 2012, 3 (1): 5-15.  
    Abstract   HTML   PDF (416KB) ( 1308 )

    Successful aging is a multidimensional construct that could be viewed as a continuum of achievement. Based on the disability model proposed by the WHO International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, successful aging includes not only the presence or absence of disease, but also aspects of mobility and social participation. Here we review definitions of successful aging and discuss relevance of the disability model in the evaluation of successful aging and frailty. In particular, we summarize evidences that highlight the importance of measures of mobility (ability to walk and perform activities of daily living), and social participation in identifying and locating older adults across the range of the successful aging continuum. Lastly, we discuss the role of inflammation in age-related decline and in frailty. Future research directions are proposed, including identifying causal pathways among inflammatory markers, disability, and frailty. A better understanding of immunological functioning in late life may help unlock novel ways to promote successful aging.

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    Maintaining Brain Health by Monitoring Inflammatory Processes: a Mechanism to Promote Successful Aging
    Caterina Rosano,Anna L. Marsland,Peter J. Gianaros
    Aging and Disease. 2012, 3 (1): 16-33.  
    Abstract   HTML   PDF (815KB) ( 938 )

    Maintaining brain health promotes successful aging. The main determinants of brain health are the preservation of cognitive function and remaining free from structural and metabolic abnormalities, including loss of neuronal synapses, atrophy, small vessel disease and focal amyloid deposits visible by neuroimaging. Promising studies indicate that these determinants are to some extent modifiable, even among adults seventy years and older. Converging animal and human evidence further suggests that inflammation is a shared mechanism, contributing to both cognitive decline and abnormalities in brain structure and metabolism. Thus, inflammation may provide a target for intervention. Specifically, circulating inflammatory markers have been associated with declines in cognitive function and worsening of brain structural and metabolic characteristics. Additionally, it has been proposed that older brains are characterized by a sensitization to neuroinflammatory responses, even in the absence of overt disease. This increased propensity to central inflammation may contribute to poor brain health and premature brain aging. Still unknown is whether and how peripheral inflammatory factors directly contribute to decline of brain health. Human research is limited by the challenges of directly measuring neuroinflammation in vivo. This review assesses the role that inflammation may play in the brain changes that often accompany aging, focusing on relationships between peripheral inflammatory markers and brain health among well-functioning, community-dwelling adults seventy years and older. We propose that monitoring and maintaining lower levels of systemic and central inflammation among older adults could help preserve brain health and support successful aging. Hence, we also identify plausible ways and novel experimental study designs of maintaining brain health late in age through interventions that target the immune system.

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    Integration of Immunity with Physical and Cognitive Function in Definitions of Successful Aging
    Patricia Griffin,Joshua J. Michel,Kristy Huysman,Alison J. Logar,Abbe N. Vallejo
    Aging and Disease. 2012, 3 (1): 34-50.  
    Abstract   HTML   PDF (724KB) ( 1139 )

    Studies comparing chronologically “young” versus “old” humans document age-related decline of classical immunological functions. However, older adults aged ≥65 years have very heterogeneous health phenotypes. A significant number of them are functionally independent and are surviving well into their 8th–11th decade life, observations indicating that aging or old age is not synonymous with immune incompetence. While there are dramatic age-related changes in the immune system, not all of these changes may be considered detrimental. Here, we review evidences for novel immunologic processes that become elaborated with advancing age that complement preserved classical immune functions and promote immune homeostasis later in life. We propose that elaboration such of late life immunologic properties is indicative of beneficial immune remodeling that is an integral component of successful aging, an emerging physiologic construct associated with similar age-related physiologic adaptations underlying maintenance of physical and cognitive function. We suggest that a systems approach integrating immune, physical, and cognitive functions, rather than a strict immunodeficiency-minded approach, will be key towards innovations in clinical interventions to better promote protective immunity and functional independence among the elderly.

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    Immune Responses to pneumococcal vaccines in children and adults: Rationale for age-specific vaccination
    M.A. Julie Westerink,Harry W. Schroeder,Moon H. Nahm
    Aging and Disease. 2012, 3 (1): 51-67.  
    Abstract   HTML   PDF (508KB) ( 930 )

    Streptococcus pneumoniae is a significant human pathogen and currently available pneumococcal vaccines are designed to elicit anti-capsule antibodies. The 23-valent polysaccharide vaccine has been used in older adults for many years whereas 7-, 10-, and 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccines have only been used commonly for young children in the last decade. In addition to their high protective efficacy among children, the use of conjugate vaccines in young children has had a number of additional effects, including production of a serotype shift and providing new herd immunity to adults. The immunogenicity of both of these types of vaccines can be determined by using an ELISA assay to measure antibody levels or an opsonophagocytosis assay to assess opsonic function. As these assays have improved over time, awareness of the analytical limitations of older studies has grown. While the 23-valent vaccine is effective among young adults, it is less effective among elderly adults. Aging-associated ineffectiveness may be due to aging-dependent changes in the antibody repertoire and/or a reduction in IgM antibody production associated with aging-dependent changes in B cell subpopulations. The immunologic basis of aging-associated immune defects thus remains an active area of research.

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    Immunosenescence and Challenges of Vaccination against Influenza in the Aging Population
    Adrian J. Reber,Tatiana Chirkova,Jin Hyang Kim,Weiping Cao,Renata Biber,David K. Shay,Suryaprakash Sambhara
    Aging and Disease. 2012, 3 (1): 68-90.  
    Abstract   HTML   PDF (953KB) ( 1012 )

    Influenza is an important contributor to morbidity and mortality worldwide. Accumulation of genetic mutations termed antigenic drift, allows influenza viruses to inflict yearly epidemics that may result in 250,000 to 500,000 deaths annually. Over 90% of influenza-related deaths occur in the older adult population. This is at least in part a result of increasing dysregulation of the immune system with age, termed immunosenescence. This dysregulation results in reduced capacity to cope with infections and decreased responsiveness to vaccination. The older adult population is in dire need of improved vaccines capable of eliciting protective responses in the face of a waning immune system. This review focuses on the status of immunity, responses to influenza vaccination, and strategies that are currently being explored to elicit enhanced immune responses in this high risk population.

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    The Role of Nutrition in Enhancing Immunity in Aging
    Munkyong Pae,Simin Nikbin Meydani,Dayong Wu
    Aging and Disease. 2012, 3 (1): 91-129.  
    Abstract   HTML   PDF (970KB) ( 1420 )

    Aging is associated with declined immune function, particularly T cell-mediated activity, which contributes to increased morbidity and mortality from infectious disease and cancer in the elderly. Studies have shown that nutritional intervention may be a promising approach to reversing impaired immune function and diminished resistance to infection with aging. However, controversy exists concerning every nutritional regimen tested to date. In this article, we will review the progress of research in this field with a focus on nutrition factor information that is relatively abundant in the literature. While vitamin E deficiency is rare, intake above recommended levels can enhance T cell function in aged animals and humans. This effect is believed to contribute toward increased resistance to influenza infection in animals and reduced incidence of upper respiratory infection in the elderly. Zinc deficiency, common in the elderly, is linked to impaired immune function and increased risk for acquiring infection, which can be rectified by zinc supplementation. However, higher than recommended upper limits of zinc may adversely affect immune function. Probiotics are increasingly being recognized as an effective, immune-modulating nutritional factor. However, to be effective, they require an adequate supplementation period; additionally, their effects are strain-specific and among certain strains, a synergistic effect is observed. Increased intake of fish or n-3 PUFA may be beneficial to inflammatory and autoimmune disorders as well as to several age-related diseases. Conversely, the immunosuppressive effect of fish oils on T cell-mediated function has raised concerns regarding their impact on resistance to infection. Caloric restriction (CR) is shown to delay immunosenescence in animals, but this effect needs to be verified in humans. Timing for CR initiation may be important to determine whether CR is effective or even beneficial at all. Recent studies have suggested that CR, which is effective at improving the immune response of unchallenged animals, might compromise the host’s defense against pathogenic infection and result in higher morbidity and mortality. The studies published thus far describe a critical role for nutrition in maintaining the immune response of the aged, but they also indicate the need for a more in-depth, wholestic approach to determining the optimal nutritional strategies that would maintain a healthy immune system in the elderly and promote their resistance to infection and other immune-related diseases

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    Exercise, Inflammation and Aging
    Jeffrey A. Woods,Kenneth R. Wilund,Stephen A. Martin,Brandon M. Kistler
    Aging and Disease. 2012, 3 (1): 130-140.  
    Abstract   HTML   PDF (620KB) ( 1792 )

    Aging results in chronic low grade inflammation that is associated with increased risk for disease, poor physical functioning and mortality. Strategies that reduce age-related inflammation may improve the quality of life in older adults. Regular exercise is recommended for older people for a variety of reasons including increasing muscle mass and reducing risk for chronic diseases of the heart and metabolic systems. Only recently has exercise been examined in the context of inflammation. This review will highlight key randomized clinical trial evidence regarding the influence of exercise training on inflammatory biomarkers in the elderly. Potential mechanisms will be presented that might explain why exercise may exert an anti-inflammatory effect.

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  Editors-in-Chief  
Kunlin Jin, M.D., Ph.D., Professor
Ashok K. Shetty, Ph.D., Professor
David A. Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D., Professor
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