The diminished power of the immune system in older adults is usually blamed on the aging process.
The diminished power of the immune system in older adults is usually blamed on the aging process. But a new study by Columbia immunologists shows that decades of particulate air pollution also take a toll.
The study found that inhaled particles from environmental pollutants accumulate over decades inside immune cells in lymph nodes associated with the lung, eventually weakening the cells’ ability to fight respiratory infections.
The findings—published Nov. 21 in Nature Medicine(link is external and opens in a new window)—offer a new reason why individuals become more susceptible to respiratory diseases with age.
Elderly people are especially vulnerable to respiratory infections, a fact brought into stark relief by the COVID pandemic. The death rate from COVID is 80 times greater in people over age 75 than in younger adults, and the elderly are also more vulnerable to influenza and other infections of the lung.
Read more at Columbia University Irving Medical Center
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