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Keywords:

  • aging;
  • immunity;
  • immunosenescence;
  • infection;
  • insulin signalling

Summary

The free-living soil nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is a versatile model for the study of the genetic regulation of aging and of host–pathogen interactions. Many genes affecting multiple processes, such as neuroendocrine signalling, nutritional sensing and mitochondrial functions, have been shown to play important roles in determining the lifespan of C. elegans. The DAF-2-mediated insulin signalling pathway is the major pathway that regulates aging in this nematode and this role appears universal; neuroendrocrine signalling also affects aging in Drosophila and mice. Recent studies have shown that the innate immune function in C. elegans is modulated by signalling from the TGF-beta-like, the p38 MAPK and the DAF-2 insulin pathways. The requirement for the DAF-2 pathway in modulating aging and immunity suggests that these processes may be linked at the molecular level. It is well known that as humans age, immunosenescence occurs in which there is a general degradation of immune efficiency. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in this process remain unclear. In this review, we discuss the molecular mechanisms that modulate aging and immune response and attempt to suggest molecular links between these two processes.