McMaster researchers find age not factor in immunity to viruses
Our immune system does not shut down with age, says a new study led by McMaster University researchers. A study published in PLOS Pathogens today shows a specialized class of immune cells, known as T cells, can respond to virus infections in an older person with the same vigour as T cells from a young person.
"For a long time, it was thought the elderly were at a higher risk of infections because they lacked these immune cells, but that simply isn't the case," said Jonathan Bramson, the study's principal investigator. "The elderly are certainly capable of developing immunity to viruses."
Researchers at McMaster, University of Toronto and the University of Pennsylvania examined individuals, younger than 40, between 41 to 59 years of age and older than 60, infected with three different viruses, including West Nile, and found the older group demonstrated perfectly normal immune responses.
Both the number of virus-fighting T cells and the functionality of the T cells were equivalent in all three groups.
"So as we age, our bodies are still able to respond to new viruses, while keeping us immune to viruses we've been exposed to in the past," Bramson said.
He added that these results have important implications for vaccination of elderly individuals.
Currently, vaccines for the elderly aren't designed to elicit responses from these immune cells, and this might explain the lack of effective protection from the flu vaccine, he said.
Vaccines specifically designed to generate T-cell immunity may be more effective at protecting older adults, Bramson said.
The research was funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and the U.S. National Institutes of Health. PLOS Pathogens is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal of the Public Library of Science.
Source: McMaster University
- Age not factor in immunity to viruses, researchers findfrom Science DailyThu, 13 Dec 2012, 19:00:37 EST
- Researchers Find Age Not Factor in Immunity to Virusesfrom Newswise - ScinewsThu, 13 Dec 2012, 18:01:01 EST
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Could the deadly mosquito-borne yellow fever virus cause a Zika-like epidemic in the Americas?
- NASA gets last looks at former Tropical Storm Darby
- NASA spots Tropical Storm Mirinae approaching China's Hainan Island
- Invasive garden 'super ants' take hold faster than ever in UK, new research finds
- NASA calculated Tropical Storm Darby's rainfall rates over Hawaii
- Yale scientists apply new imaging tool to common brain disorders
- NASA spots Tropical Storm Darby as warnings posted in Hawaii
- New lithium-oxygen battery greatly improves energy efficiency, longevity
- Researchers discover how honey bees 'telescope' their abdomens
- First discovery from 'New Riversleigh' -- a new extinct carnivorous marsupial
- Researchers invent 'smart' thread that collects diagnostic data when sutured into tissue
- The birth of quantum holography: Making holograms of single light particles!
- Cave discoveries shed new light on Native and European religious encounters in the Americas
- Modular acoustic filters simplify design of mufflers, musical instruments, audio tags
- Weird quantum effects stretch across hundreds of miles