Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is important for maintaining tissue homeostasis, as it permits the elimination of damaged, functionless or unwanted cells. As we age, our immune system undergoes constant remodeling, during which age-associated changes in immune parameters, including decreased naïve and increased memory T cells, have been reported. However, excessive immune cell loss, rendering the elderly more vulnerable to infections, and inappropriate deletion of damaged or functionless lymphocytes, can contribute to the development of age-associated diseases. As such, we studied the mRNA expression of cell death (specifically caspase) genes in nonagenarians and centenarians, successful models of ageing who have survived or avoided age-associated diseases, as well as in their younger counterparts and found that population composed of extremely old individuals shows a unique pattern of caspase mRNA expression, characterized by high levels of caspase-1 and -3, and low levels of caspase-8, mRNA while those composed of old individuals are characterize by high level of caspase-8 mRNA expression. Furthermore, we show that the described changes in caspases mRNA do not appear to results from age-related changes in PBMC composition, such as decreases in CD24. Therefore, we suggest that unique patterns of caspase mRNA results from the regulation of message abundance on a per cell basis, via a putative regulation of caspase genes at the transcription or RNA processing level, rather than changes in immune profiles.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology