Age-related changes in non-receptor dependent generation of reactive oxygen species from phagocytes of healthy adults

I N Bruce, J A McNally, I M Rea, A L Bell

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Several authors have shown that neutrophil generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) declines with advancing age. Similar changes have also been suggested in monocytes. In both cases alterations in second messenger activity have been implicated as the most likely explanation for these observations. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of age on phagocyte ROS generation, stimulated by the direct activation of protein kinase C (PKC). Venous blood was drawn from normal healthy subjects, cells were separated on a double density gradient into mononuclear and polymorphonuclear (pmn) cells. Phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) was employed as a cell stimulus. Superoxide generation was measured by cytochrome c reduction and myeloperoxidase (MPO) products by measurement of peak luminol chemiluminescence (CL). Fifty-eight subjects, 25 males and 33 females, were studied, median age 49 years (range 26-88 years). Polymorphonuclear cell superoxide generation was significantly higher in males and there was a trend towards higher pmn MPO product generation in males. Using Spearman's ranked correlation coefficient, monocyte superoxide generation was negatively correlated with age (r = -0.473, P <0.001). No changes in the generation of MPO products was found. There were also trends towards a negative correlation of pmn cytochrome c reduction and peak luminol CL with age in males but not females. Since PMA directly activates protein kinase C, reduced monocyte superoxide generation with increasing age appears to be related to alterations in the ROS generating system downstream of the cell receptor. Impaired monocyte superoxide generation may have implications for non-specific defence against certain infections and early tumour growth in the elderly. Factors underlying these changes in monocyte function therefore require further study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-44
Number of pages10
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 1997

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