Normalisation of immune reactivity in old age - from basic mechanisms to clinical application
Reconstitution of normal immune function in old age is generally based on boosting the response against foreign antigens, e.g. infectious bacteria or viruses.
TOLERAGE Co-ordinator Georg Wick inside an inflatable model of an artery. The model is used to explain to the public how and where atherosclerosis occurs, and how people can minimise their risk of suffering from the consequences of this disease, in particular heart attack and stroke.
Our focus, however, will be to normalise immune reactivity by correcting the immune dysregulation which is known to increase with age. This loss of tolerance towards the body’s own constituents forms the basis of important age related autoimmune diseases with high costs to European societies in terms of morbidity and mortality.
Endothelial cells, which line the inside of blood vessels, contract and detach from the surface when exposed to cigarette smoke in cell culture experiments. Smoking is one of the most important environmental risk factors for developing atherosclerosis.
The relationship between tolerance and the ageing immune system is also the source for the project name – a combination of tolerance and age.