Macrophage function in the elderly and impact on injury repair and cancer

L. Duong, Hg Radley, B. Lee, De Dye, Fj Pixley, Md Grounds, Dj Nelson, C. Jackaman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Older age is associated with deteriorating health, including escalating risk of diseases such as cancer, and a diminished ability to repair following injury. This rise in age-related diseases/co-morbidities is associated with changes to immune function, including in myeloid cells, and is related to immunosenescence. Immunosenescence reflects age-related changes associated with immune dysfunction and is accompanied by low-grade chronic inflammation or inflammageing. This is characterised by increased levels of circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-6. However, in healthy ageing, there is a concomitant age-related escalation in anti-inflammatory cytokines such as transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) and IL-10, which may overcompensate to regulate the pro-inflammatory state. Key inflammatory cells, macrophages, play a role in cancer development and injury repair in young hosts, and we propose that their role in ageing in these scenarios may be more profound. Imbalanced pro- and anti-inflammatory factors during ageing may also have a significant influence on macrophage function and further impact the severity of age-related diseases in which macrophages are known to play a key role. In this brief review we summarise studies describing changes to inflammatory function of macrophages (from various tissues and across sexes) during healthy ageing. We also describe age-related diseases/co-morbidities where macrophages are known to play a key role, focussed on injury repair processes and cancer, plus comment briefly on strategies to correct for these age-related changes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalImmunity and Ageing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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