Exercise and immunosenescence

Richard J. Simpson, Guillaume Spielmann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Life expectancy in the developed world has increased exponentially over the last century, predisposing the elderly population to an unprecedented risk of infectious disease and malignancy. This apparent increase in disease susceptibility appears to be due to inexorable declines in the normal functioning of the immune system, with this age-related effect commonly being referred to as immunosenescence. The decline in functioning of the immune system is thought to be multifactorial (see Chaps. 1 and 2) and in part reflects a manifestation of repeated exposures to external pathogens and persistent viral infections throughout the lifespan, although certain lifestyle factors (i.e. smoking, inactivity, socio-economic status Socio-economic status (SES)) have also been linked with impaired immunity and biomarkers of ageing. Immunosenescence describes a progressive deterioration of systemic immunity, however, ageing is associated with a more pronounced functional decline in adaptive (i.e. T- and B-lymphocytes and their products) compared to innate immunity. Many of these age-related changes within the T-cell compartment (i.e. inverted CD4/CD8 T-cell ratio, low mitogen-induced T-cell proliferation, memory cell inflation, low IL-2 synthesis) have been clustered together over the years to form an immune risk profile (IRP) that has proven to be a useful set of biomarkers to predict morbidity and mortality in the elderly (Pawelec et al., J Comp Pathol 142(Suppl 1):S39-44, 2010). However, circulating levels of inflammatory mediators such as IL-6, IL-1ra and C-reactive protein have also been found to be useful prognostic markers in very old people (Jylha et al., J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 62(9):1016-1021, 2007).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationImmunosenescence
Subtitle of host publicationPsychosocial and Behavioral Determinants
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781461447764
ISBN (Print)1461447755, 9781461447757
StatePublished - May 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Exercise
  • Immune risk profile
  • Immunosenescence
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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