Anatomy and physiology of ageing 9: the immune system

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This article has been double-blind peer reviewedIn this article…Age-related changes to the innate and adaptive immune responsesThymic involution and immunosenescenceDecreased production and impaired function of ageing immune cellsWith advancing age, the body's ability to respond to infection declines, and recovery from injury or microbial attack becomes delayed or ineffective. This is called immunosenescence. The innate immune response, the acquired immune response and the inflammatory response are all blunted, and the immune system becomes less able to mount a rapid and complete defence against invading pathogens. Ageing also means older people respond less well to vaccines and are more prone to autoimmune conditions. This is the ninth article in an 11-part series on the effects of ageing on the systems of the body.

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