Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why are the elderly so vulnerable to pneunomia?

Date:
March 17, 2011
Source:
Loyola University Health System
Summary:
Scientists are providing insight into why the elderly are so vulnerable to pneumonia and other bacterial infections.

A study featured on the cover of the March 15 Journal of Immunology is providing insight into why the elderly are so vulnerable to pneumonia and other bacterial infections.

Compared with younger adults, the elderly are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from pneumonia. Moreover, vaccines against the disease are less effective in the elderly.

To help understand why, Loyola researchers examined two types of immune system cells, macrophages and B cells, located in specialized areas in the spleens of mice. (Macrophages gobble up bacteria, while B cells produce antibodies that fight bacteria.)

Macrophages and B cells appeared to be just as effective in old mice as they were in younger mice. But there were fewer of them.

"If we knew how to replenish these cells, we might be able to lower the risk of bacterial infections in the elderly," said senior author Pamela Witte, a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "This is an unexplored area in aging."

The finding also could provide clues to developing vaccines against pneumococcal pneumonia that would be more effective in the elderly, said first author Shirin Birjandi, who is completing her PhD at Loyola.

For example, Birjandi said, current vaccines instruct B cells to make antibodies against bacteria that cause pneumonia. But if humans are like mice, the elderly will have fewer B cells. So it might make more sense to develop vaccines that instead target other immune system cells, Birjandi said.

In their study, Loyola researchers examined B cells and macrophages that form microscopic rings in the spleen called marginal zones. These marginal zones form protective rings, preventing bacteria from passing through.

Photographs taken by the researchers show that in the spleens of young mice, macrophages form distinct rings in the marginal zones. (One of these photos appears on the cover of the Journal of Immunology.) In old mice, however, the photographs show that marginal zone rings are dramatically disrupted. (In humans, the equivalent ages of the old mice would be between 70 and 80.)

Researchers wrote that understanding changes such as these "is important for developing more efficient therapies for preventing diseases, such as bacterial pneumonia, that have shown to be highly detrimental in the elderly."

Other co-authors of the study are Jill Ippolito and Anand Ramadorai.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Loyola University Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Z. Birjandi, J. A. Ippolito, A. K. Ramadorai, P. L. Witte. Alterations in Marginal Zone Macrophages and Marginal Zone B Cells in Old Mice. The Journal of Immunology, 2011; DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.1001271

Cite This Page:

Loyola University Health System. "Why are the elderly so vulnerable to pneunomia?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110314091647.htm>.
Loyola University Health System. (2011, March 17). Why are the elderly so vulnerable to pneunomia?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110314091647.htm
Loyola University Health System. "Why are the elderly so vulnerable to pneunomia?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110314091647.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

AFP (Apr. 14, 2014) To curb the growing numbers of feral cats in the US capital, the Washington Humane Society is encouraging residents to set traps and bring the animals to a sterilization clinic, after which they are released.. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
After Attack, Officials Kill 5 Bears in Florida

After Attack, Officials Kill 5 Bears in Florida

AP (Apr. 14, 2014) Florida wildlife officials say they have killed five bears following an attack on a woman in a suburban subdivision in central Florida. Forty-five year-old Terri Frana was attacked by a large bear in her driveway Saturday. (April 14) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Uruguay Opens Its First Cannabis Library

Uruguay Opens Its First Cannabis Library

AFP (Apr. 13, 2014) Uruguay opened its first Cannabis Library in Montevideo on Saturday, where people can come and read books on cannabis or take classes on how to grow the plant or even how to cook with it. Duration: 01:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins