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Aging and the immune system

Arranz, Caamaño, Lord, et. al., (2010), site that longevity and immune function share a relationship. They point out that adequate immune funtions are associated with increased longevity and decline in immune functions are related to decreased longevity ( 2010). Swain, Nikolich-Zugich, (2009) acknowledge the relationship between cellular and replicative senescence, oxidative damage, DNA damage/repair, and epigenetics, immunology, and general biology of aging (Swain, Nikolich-Zugich, 2009). Beyond this emotional psychological stress, socio-economic status, racial pressures, gender differences, environmental factors, education, social support, religion, and marital status are shown to impact immune functions by increasing oxidative-stress, disease, and reducing longevity ( ). According to Piazza, Almeida, Dmitrieva, and Klein (2010), the stress response alone does not contribute to adverse health outcomes. Rather, it protects an organism from harm by increasing alertness, mobilizing energy, and protecting against pathogens. However over time, prolonged stresses require deleterious adaptive changes and adversely impact the immune system. Relative hormone levels associated with the flight-or-fight response are used as bio-markers of aging. Ultimately, cortisol mobilizes energy stores, serves as an anti-inflammatory hormone, and communicates with the immune system as chronic exhaustion is created. Chronic activation of this process is believed to cause cellular degeneration which we call aging. It appears that chronic imbalances gradually increase until old age (70s-80s) where the body degenerated to the extent that it can no longer sustain elevated chronic states. As this continues inflammatory status increases. This particular life long chronic burden on the entire system is called allostatic load. It is believed to accurately indicate our measure of aging. This also means that older adults are effected by stress to a greater degree and take longer to recover. More...

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