Aging and the Inflammatory ResponsePosted on Wednesday, August, 3rd, 2011 by in Immune Homeostasis (Immune Balance)
Aging typically does not occur overnight. Instead, it progresses gradually until you start feeling that you are indeed “aging”. You begin to realize that you cannot work or party as hard as you once did. You don not recover from workouts as quickly and you hurt the day after a hard work out. You are stiff in the morning or after a long drive. Your skin is not as tight as it once was, and winkles appear. You experience less energy, and your sexual drive suffers as well.
I am personally affronted when people share their complaints with doctors who respond that “there is nothing that can be done–you are just getting older”.
People who age poorly, are unable to control the amount of inflammation their bodies generate. Their immune cells are producing and releasing too many pro-inflammatory cytokines (1,2). These sorts of events can result in chronic inflammation, which is associated with heart and neuromuscular disease, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s and autoimmune (3) conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and multiple sclerosis. Chronic inflammatory responses have also been associated with certain types of cancers.
One would expect that if you have a “boosted” immune response, that you would be better prepared to fight infections and cancerous cells. Instead, there is a significant decline in immune responses in people that are not aging in a healthy manner. Their immune cells are not as effective as healthier individuals in recognizing and eliminating pathogens or stopping the spread of cancer cells.
Immune homeostasis, also known as immune balance, is the key to optimum health and healthy aging. The immune system controls the amount of pro-inflammatory molecules it produces by generating the right types and amount of anti-inflammatory molecules (4) to keep excessive levels of inflammation in check.
1 Pro-inflammatory -immune molecules that “up-regulate”(increase) inflammatory responses
2 Cytokines: http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/glossary=cytokine
3 Autoimmune- http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Autoimmune/default.asp
4 Anti-inflammatory–immune molecules that inhibit (“down-regulate”) inflammation
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