A few weeks ago, I wrote about a concept put forth by Embria Health Sciences’ Stuart Reeves. The concept of “inflammaging.” The basic thrust is that as people age, stressors that induce inflammatory response via immune cells and lead to age related diseases are compounded and worsened due to the inability of the aging body’s immune system to limit that inflammatory response. The result: chronic, low-grade inflammation that persists within a continuum of health problems as one gets older.
Now, we get new science from Stanford this week that a single protein may be the culprit in weakened immune response among elderly people. The protein, called DUSP6, may be interfering with an otherwise normal immune response to germs, viruses and vaccines. The result: Older people get sicker more often because of this subpar immune response. Figuring out a way to turn off this protein may lead to stronger immune function among aging people.
So, in essence, we have a kind of cruel one-two punch delivered to seniors as they age: chronic inflammation from out-of-balance immune response, and greater susceptibility to disease due to weak, out-of-balance immune response to germs and viruses.
All of this, of course, is still in the abstract stage and requires a ton of more controlled research to be verified and scientifically validated. Still, the argument for ways to balance immune function as a path toward better overall health continues to expand.