Are macrophages, myeloid derived suppressor cells and neutrophils mediators of local suppression in healthy and cancerous tissues in aging hosts?

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Most cancers emerge in elderly and immune-comprised hosts implying an important role for cancer immune surveillance. Here, we focus on the role of tissue-associated innate immune cells including antigen presenting cells (i.e. dendritic cells and macrophages), myeloid derived suppressor cells and neutrophils in healthy and cancer-bearing elderly hosts. Most cancers, including the cancers that we are interested in, i.e. lung carcinomas and mesothelioma, emerge in aging populations at a time when naïve T cell function is declining. CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes are critical anti-tumor effector cells, and their diminished function may contribute to cancer escape mechanisms in the elderly. Therefore, we compare the likely consequences of innate immune cell interactions with T cells in young versus elderly hosts. We examine data showing that elderly-derived innate cells are highly immunosuppressive and may provide a more tumorigenic milieu than their younger counterparts. Standard chemotherapy often only provides these patients a few extra months survival time. Recent evidence has shown that standard chemotherapy is not as effective in hosts devoid of T cells. Therefore, T cell dysfunction in the elderly may contribute to poor treatment outcomes. However, there is also evidence that T cell immunity can be rejuvenated via activated dendritic cells and/or macrophages. Combining ‘rejuvenation’ immunotherapy with standard chemotherapy may offer an improved outcome for elderly cancer patients. We explore this potential herein.

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