Inflammaging as a Major Characteristic of Old People: Can It Be Prevented or Cured?

Authors

  • Claudio Franceschi MD

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Experimental Pathology and Interdepartmental Centre “L. Galvani” at the University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy, and the Department of Gerontology at the Italian Na-tional Research Center on Aging (INRCA), Ancona, Italy.
      Department of Experimental Pathology and Interdepartmental Centre “L. Galvani,” University of Bologna, Via S. Giacomo 12, Bologna, Italy. Phone: +39–51–209–4743, Fax: +39–51–209–4768, E-mail: claudio.franceschi@unibo.it
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Department of Experimental Pathology and Interdepartmental Centre “L. Galvani,” University of Bologna, Via S. Giacomo 12, Bologna, Italy. Phone: +39–51–209–4743, Fax: +39–51–209–4768, E-mail: claudio.franceschi@unibo.it

Abstract

Widespread aging at the population level is a recent phenomenon that emerged in affluent societies. Inflammation is necessary to cope with damaging agents and is crucial for survival, particularly to cope with acute inflammation during our reproductive years. But chronic exposure to a variety of antigens, especially to some viruses such as cytomegalovirus, for a period much longer than that predicted by evolution, induces a chronic low-grade inflammatory status that contributes to age-associated morbidity and mortality. This condition carries the proposed name “inflammaging”. Centenarians are unique in that, despite high levels of pro-inflammatory markers, they also exhibit anti-inflammatory markers that may delay disease onset. The key to successful aging and longevity is to decrease chronic inflammation without compromising an acute response when exposed to pathogens.

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