Aging is associated with a number of chronic diseases – cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and cancer. They are all part of the process of immunosenescence. The chronic inflammation that is a feature of the declining efficiency of geriatric immune systems has a deleterious effect on normal metabolic and hormonal signaling, is increased by the accumulation of cell debris as we age (for instance in the eye), and is typified by chronically elevated levels of circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines.These processes are well reviewed in a recent paper in the journal Aging Mechanisms and Disease, titled “Macrophages in age-related chronic inflammatory diseases”, by Yumiko Oishi and Ichiro Manabe. These chronic inflammatory processes, say the authors, tend not to be dramatic but are long-term, low-grade smouldering responses to things like tissue repair and insult by pathogens. And changes in the behavior of macrophages in particular, as we age, are central to driving inflammation. Macrophages, they say, not only promote inflammation and tissue dysfunction but also are essential for resolution and healing of inflammation, as well as maintenance of tissue homeostasis. But, as we age, while macrophages turn on the inflammation that underlies healing processes and resistance to infection, they become less good at turning inflammation off when it has done its job. Thus macrophages appear to contribute crucially to the paradoxical activation of basal chronic inflammatory states in the elderly and to the progression of age-associated diseases.
With >50 years of Clinical Medicine experience and with increasing age related issues, as a scientist, I am intrigued with the developments within my own organism’s organs. I’m fascinated by one issue. The apparent change in my cognitive abilities when I am on a course of antibiotics and/or prednisone. As I age the contrast is increasingly significant. But, even as a young man in my 30’s I wondered about the overall improvement in my cognition when taking antibiotics. Many times we take antibiotics preventively, so I am not referring to the relief they provide when suffering from an infection and fever. Just recently, during December and January, I was prescribed two courses each of antibiotics and prednisone, for a chronic cough from reactive asthma. Both times I experienced heighten cognitive abilities. within a couple weeks, those heighten abilities decreased and I feel more confused and less cognitive. The quality of the improvement of my cognition, in contrast to what I am increasingly experiencing, is the same as when I was in my early 50’s. I’m convinced there is something insidious and chronically inflammatory as a response occurring within my brain. I wish the cause could be pinpointed. It might even be more common amongst millions around the world. Even aspirin allows me to feel more alert.
It is my belief that many of the inflammatory processes are partly caused by iron accumulation as we age. I also find it interesting that Co-q10 levels decrease with age and they both are essential in the electron transport chain.
Bill Sardi has an interesting read called ” A Unified Theory of Aging”
Merely by stopping inflammation( in some diseases) will mitigate further progression of the disease.