Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Decline of immune system with aging may have a genetic cause

Date:
July 11, 2012
Source:
Genetics Society of America
Summary:
By examining fruit flies at two different stages of their lives – youth and middle age -- scientists have discovered important insights that explain why our ability to ward off infection declines with age.

Important insights that explain why our ability to ward off infection declines with age are published in a new research report in the July 2012 issue of the Genetics Society of America's journal, Genetics. A team of U.S. scientists identified genes responsible for this decline by examining fruit flies -- a model organism often used to study human biology in an experimentally tractable system -- at different stages of their lives. They found that a completely different set of genes is responsible for warding off infection at middle age than during youth.

Related Articles


Many of the genes identified are also present in humans, so this study opens doors to understanding genetic interactions that underlie why older people have more trouble fighting off infections than do younger people.

"We believe we have identified genes that contribute to the age-related deterioration of the immune response to infection," said Jeff Leips, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. "Because many of the genes that we have identified also occur in humans, we hope that such knowledge will lead to new treatments to maintain immune function as we age."

To make this discovery, Leips used fruit flies of different genotypes that were derived from a natural population. Flies of each genotype were infected with bacteria at two different ages -- when they were young, at an age equivalent to human teenagers, and when they were older, in what might be the equivalent to early middle age in humans. The researchers then measured the ability of the flies to clear the bacterial infection at each age while simultaneously assessing how the expression of genes responded to infection. Genes whose variation in expression were associated with the ability to clear the infection were identified for each of the different ages at the time of infection. Surprisingly, the genes were different -- there was no overlap in the sets of genes associated with the ability to clear infection across ages.

"The notion that the genes responsible for immune function are almost entirely different in middle age than in early adulthood is tantalizing," said Mark Johnston, editor-in-chief of the journal GENETICS. "As the average age of the U.S. population increases, understanding how to maintain strong, healthy immune systems could help many of us live longer, healthier lives."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Genetics Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. T. M. Felix, K. A. Hughes, E. A. Stone, J. M. Drnevich, and J. Leips. Age-specific variation in immune response in Drosophila melanogaster has a genetic basis. Genetics, July 2012 Volume 191, Issue 3

Cite This Page:

Genetics Society of America. "Decline of immune system with aging may have a genetic cause." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120711104807.htm>.
Genetics Society of America. (2012, July 11). Decline of immune system with aging may have a genetic cause. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120711104807.htm
Genetics Society of America. "Decline of immune system with aging may have a genetic cause." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120711104807.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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