Aging has been shown to be accompanied by various changes in the lymphocyte subset distribution in the elderly. We have investigated more fully, and in a large number of subjects, age-related changes within several subpopulations bearing natural killer (NK) cell-associated surface antigens and changes in several cytokines involved in NK cell expansion. A total of 229 healthy subjects from all decades of life from 20 to 98 years of age was included in this cross-sectional study. A significant increase with age was found in both the absolute counts and the proportions of CD3-CD(16+56)+, CD3+CD(16+56)+, CD57+CD8+, CD57+CD8(low)+, and CD57+CD8- cells, whereas the CD57+CD8(high)+ subset, which may represent the cytolytic T cell population more precisely, showed less change with age. Some evidence is also provided to suggest that these expanded NK cell populations are in an activated state. Soluble IL-2 receptor levels were also found to increase significantly with age and correlated with certain NK cell subsets. Although the functions of some of these subsets remain to be elucidated, their expansion in the elderly may represent a remodeling of the immune system with increasing age, with an increase in non-MHC-restricted cells perhaps compensating for the previously reported decline in T and B cells in the elderly. Alternatively, increased numbers of these cells may be a direct result of cytokine dysregulation or increased antigenic or neoplastic cell challenge.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Journal of Clinical Immunology|
|Publication status||Published - 1998|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy