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Nutraceutical Interventions for Attenuating Immunosenescence

Renato Toffanin1, and Emilio Jirillo2*


From the 1Advanced Research Centre for Health, Environment and Space (ARCHES), 70013 Castellana Grotte, Italy and 2Department of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Bari, 70124 Bari, Italy

*Emilio Jirillo, MD, Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Policlinico, Piazza G. Cesare 11, 70124, Bari (Italy); e-mail: jirillo@midim.uniba.it

Keywords: nutraceuticals, healthy ageing, immunosenescence.

 

 
 

Abstract: In the western world longevity has significantly increased in relation to the improvement of socio-economic and health conditions. Therefore, the number of centenarians has reached a percentage superior to any life expectancy prediction at the beginning of the last century. However, despite longevity frailty in ageing is very frequent and age-related diseases are in part caused by an inadequate dietary regimen. In particular, obesity, diabetes and atherosclerosis are the major pathologies in the elderly. In the light of the above concepts, healthy ageing represents a key priority in the European Union, which is devising new strategies for treating and preventing age-related diseases. The success of frailty preventive measures for the older population depends on a great extent from a correct diet, and, therefore, nutraceutical consumption is increasing. Here, the health benefits of micronutrients, saturated fatty acids, polyphenols and pre- and probiotics will be discussed in relation to the attenuation of the immunosenescence process.

INTRODUCTION

At present, the western world is facing a rise in ageing population that accounts for a dramatic increase in age-related diseases [1]. As far as longevity is concerned, this status depends on many events, such as improvement of hygienic and socio-economic conditions (urbanization, increased levels of education, more job opportunities, technological progress, et cetera), adequate nutrition and more disease preventive measures in health care [2]. According to some projections, over


 

88% of newborns will live more than 65 years and 44% will live more than 85 years. By contrast, in 1900 only 40% of newborns in the western world had a life expectancy beyond age 65 [3]. However, despite longevity ageing is an inexorable process that affects all tissues and organs of the body even if people do not age at the same rate. In this respect, the mortality rate in individuals over 65 years, when compared to that of adults with an age range between 25 and 44 years, significantly increases for pathologies such as stroke, chronic pulmonary disease, cardiac disease, acute respiratory illness and cancer [1-3].

Prediction of the rate of ageing is very difficult, since healthy ageing varies considerably. In fact, some people experience a successful ageing up to seventies or eighties, other few become centenarians. Centenarians represent a good model for studying longevity since they constitute a cohort that survived despite neonatal mortality, pre-antibiotic era infections and outcomes of age-related diseases [4]. Centenarians possess good genotypes in comparison to frail aged persons who have bad genotypes. Frailty in elderly is characterized by major pathologies such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer disease (AD) and cancer. In conclusion, centenarians are able to generate robust inflammatory responses that are well counterbalanced by anti-inflammatory mechanisms, thus preventing and/or attenuating age-related diseases. In this framework, recent studies conducted in nonagenarians have evidenced that the anti-inflammatory heat shock protein (HSP) 70 genes are positively associated with longevity [5]. In fact, they code for proteins that are involved in mechanisms of cellular maintenance and tissue repair.

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