Effects of Aging on Immune Function

  • Edith A. Burns
  • James S. Goodwin


At first glance, a review of immune system changes with age may seem out of place in a surgical textbook. After stopping to consider for a few moments, however, it begins to make sense that such a topic be included. The traditional approach to describing immune function focuses on the role of cellular components in protection against infection and cancer and the diseases that result from hyper- or hypoactivity of these components. Proper function of the immune system is imperative if the body is to heal and protect itself properly, not only after microbial invasion or neoplastic transformation but after physical invasion, such as trauma and surgery. A well-functioning immune system helps ensure optimum wound healing and minimizes the risk of infection. As adults over age 85 years continue to be the fastest growing segment of the population, an increasingly larger proportion of patients taken to surgery will be in the geriatric age range. Age-related changes in immune function will assume greater significance during management of these patients surgically and in overall clinical practice.


Immune Function Herpes Zoster Influenza Vaccine Aged Mouse Natural Killer Cell Cytotoxicity 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edith A. Burns
  • James S. Goodwin

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