, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 9–20 | Cite as

Psychoneuroendocrine interventions aimed at attenuating immunosenescence: a review

  • Moisés E. Bauer
  • Guilherme C. Muller
  • Bruna Luz Correa
  • Priscila Vianna
  • James E. Turner
  • Jos A. Bosch
Review Article


There is evidence suggesting that immunosenescence can be accelerated by external factors such as chronic stress. Here we review potential psychoneuroendocrine determinants of premature aging of the immune system and discuss available interventions aimed at attenuating immunosenescence. Chronic stress may accelerate various features of immunosenescence by activating key allostatic systems, notably the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. The immunological impact of such neuroendocrine dysregulation may be further amplified by a dramatic decline in dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) levels, acting in part as an endogenous glucocorticoid antagonist. Stress-buffering strategies show beneficial effects on various biomarkers in elderly populations. Likewise, supplementation of DHEA, melatonin or growth hormone has yielded significant beneficial effects in a number of studies, including: increased well-being, memory performance, bone mineral density and improved immunocompetence as evidenced by results of in vitro (T cell proliferation, cytotoxicity, cytokine production), and in vivo immune challenges. However, the side-effects of hormonal supplementation are also discussed. Finally, moderate exercise via the promotion of cortisol/DHEA balance or epigenetic modifications, is associated with lower serum pro-inflammatory cytokines, greater lymphoproliferative responses and lower counts of senescent T cells. Taken together, these data suggest that immune system is plastic and immunosenescence can be attenuated psychoneuroendocrine interventions.


Aging Immunosenescence Glucocorticoids Lymphocytes 



This study was supported by grants from CAPES and CNPq (#470747/2006-4 and #305155/2006-7).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Moisés E. Bauer
    • 1
  • Guilherme C. Muller
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bruna Luz Correa
    • 1
  • Priscila Vianna
    • 3
  • James E. Turner
    • 4
  • Jos A. Bosch
    • 5
  1. 1.Laboratory of Immunosenescence, Faculty of BiosciencesInstitute of Biomedical Research, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS)Porto AlegreBrazil
  2. 2.Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos (UNISINOS)São LeopoldoBrazil
  3. 3.Laboratory of Immunogenetics, Department of GeneticsFederal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS)Porto AlegreBrazil
  4. 4.School of Cancer SciencesUniversity of BirminghamEdgbaston, BirminghamUK
  5. 5.School of Sport and Exercise SciencesUniversity of BirminghamEdgbaston, BirminghamUK

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