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Immunosenescence: implications for vaccination programs in the elderly

Authors Loukov D, Naidoo A, Bowdish D

Received 31 March 2015

Accepted for publication 11 May 2015

Published 6 August 2015 Volume 2015:5 Pages 17—29

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/VDT.S63888

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Don Diamond


Dessi Loukov,1,2,* Avee Naidoo,1,2,* Dawn ME Bowdish1,2

1Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster Immunology Research Centre, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada; 2Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Institute for Infectious Diseases Research, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Abstract: Worldwide, infectious disease is responsible for much of the morbidity and mortality in the elderly. As the number of individuals over the age of 65 increases, the economic and social costs of treating these infections will become a major challenge. Vaccination is the most effective and least costly preventative measure in our arsenal; however, vaccines that are effective in children and young adults are often ineffective in older adults. This is a result of the deterioration in immune function that occurs with age, referred to as immunosenescence. Age-associated changes in leukocyte phenotype and function impair primary vaccine responses and weaken long-lasting memory responses. In this review, we discuss current vaccination approaches in the elderly and strategies to improve responsiveness in older adults, which include increasing vaccine immunogenicity and overcoming the fundamental immune defects that prevent optimal immune responses.

Keywords: immunosenescence, vaccination, elderly, influenza, pneumonia, zoster

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