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Research news: Transcriptional analysis reveals gender-specific changes in the ageing of the human immune system

Ageing is associated with declining function of the immune system and on the other hand it is known that there are gender differences in the functions of the immune system. However, the interaction of ageing and gender has not been widely studied.

Our aim was to identify ageing associated changes in the human immune system at the level of gene expression and also to characterize how these changes differ between males and females. The study population consisted of 146 nonagenarians participating in the Vitality 90+ study and 30 young controls. The genome wide transcriptomic analysis was performed to peripheral blood mononuclear cells.

Our results show that there are differences between males and females in ageing associated gene expression changes, as well as in ageing associated changes in signaling pathways. Fewer affected signaling pathways were identified in males compared to females. The results also indicate that nonagenarian females have weaker T cell defenses and a more prominent pro-inflammatory response as compared to males.

Marttila S, Jylhävä J, Nevalainen T, Nykter M, Jylhä M, Hervonen A, Tserel L, Peterson P, Hurme M. PLoS ONE 8(6): e66229. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066229

For further information please contact:

Saara Marttila
Department of microbiology and immunology, School of Medicine, University of Tampere, +358-50-3185813

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