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Current Affairs

Inflammageing and severe covid

Date: 22 July 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Researchers discuss the impact of inflammageing on immunity in ageing individuals. They suggest that reducing inflammation using anti-inflammatory drugs may provide a therapeutic strategy in older COVID-19 patients.

 

Background

As one age, inflammation throughout the body reaches higher levels. Known as ‘inflammageing’, this can inhibit immunity. Researchers are working to find out if extreme inflammatory responses are a result of this phenomenon.

 

Details 

  • Inflammageing is thought to be caused, at least partially, by a deterioration of aged cells (senescence) in tissues of the body that release inflammatory molecules.

  • A growing number of studies show that excessive inflammation due to inflammageing combined with an aged immune system can inhibit overall immunity, which can also reduce vaccination efficacy in older people.

  • The human immune system weakens with age. As this happens, our bodily defence systems respond more slowly to bacterial and viral infections, leaving the elderly more vulnerable.

  • In addition to the deterioration of immunity, another common condition of ageing is inflammageing. This is characterised by chronic low-grade inflammation, which occurs without an infection.

  • While inflammation is essential to the immune response, inflammageing is not. Research has shown that this state of elevated inflammation can worsen many age-related diseases, and further inhibit the response from an already declining immune system.

  • In the case of COVID, the Perspective suggests it could be the initial trigger that kicks off the extreme inflammatory responses seen in the most severely ill patients.

  • The search for an effective vaccine for COVID-19 has also to consider the decreased vaccination efficacy in older subjects that may be associated with inflammageing.

  • Therefore, the effective treatment of COVID-19 in older patients may require a combination of anti-inflammatory, anti-viral regimes to compliment vaccination against the virus.