Effects of aging on immune function

Edith A. Burns, J. S. Goodwin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


A variety of changes are observed in the immune system in both animals and humans with increasing age. There is a decline in the functional capacity of the cell populations that mount generalized and focused immune responses, and decreasing production and response of these cells to regulatory signals and proteins. These changes translate into less effective innate and adaptive immune responses, increased reactivity against self-antigens in vivo, and an increased incidence of infection. There may also be an increased risk of mortality. The mechanisms underlying age-related changes in immune function are not fully understood, but are likely to be multifactorial, including environmental and behavioral factors that affect over-all immune function from the molecular level to that of the entire organism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-18
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nutrition, Health and Aging
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2004


  • Aging
  • Apoptosis
  • Cytokines
  • Immunity
  • Lymphocytes
  • Macrophages
  • Natural killer cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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