Encyclopedia of Aging and Public Health

Editors: Sana JD Loue, Martha Sajatovic

Autoimmune Theory of Aging

  • Jessica Diggs
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-33754-8_46

The autoimmune theory of aging, introduced by Roy L. Walford in 1969, asserts that with age, the immune system tends to lose efficiency and experiences widespread dysfunction, evidenced by autoimmunity (immune reactions against one's own body proteins) and a decreased ability to respond to infection and other immune challenges. Human immunity is a highly regulated and coordinated process, and is often divided into two components. The first, known as innate immunity, provides a defense against pathogens (potential disease‐causing agents) in a nonspecific way; and the second, known as adaptive or protective immunity, involves a specific response to a pathogen that the body has seen before. Once the body is exposed to an antigen (a foreign substance or pathogen capable of causing an immune response), antibodies will be produced that specifically target that antigen.

There are many different types of cells that are involved in protecting the body against infection; the primary cells...

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Suggested Readings

  1. Hazzard WR (1999) Principles of geriatric medicine and gerontology, 4th ed. McGraw‐Hill, Health Professions Division, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Holliday R (1995) Understanding ageing. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  3. Janeway CA Jr, Travers P, Walport M, Schlomchick M (2005) Immunobiology: the immune system in health and disease, 6th ed. Garland Science Publishing, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Maddox GL (1987) The encyclopedia of aging. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Morley JE, Berg, L Van den (2000) Endocrinology of aging, 20th ed. Humana Press, Totowa, NJGoogle Scholar
  6. Schneider EL, Rowe JW (1990) Handbook of the biology of aging, 3rd ed. Academic Press, San Diego, CAGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica Diggs

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