Aging of the immune system is an inevitable process involving complex changes. An improved understanding of the aged immune system; muscle loss; and how chronic, low-grade inflammation could be involved is crucial due to the increasing elderly populations of humans, horses, and other species.
Age-associated changes in immune function, including immunosenescence (a reduced ability of white blood cells, or lymphocytes, to proliferate when faced with an infectious challenge in addition to reduced immune response to vaccination, which could increased older animals' susceptibility to infectious disease) and inflamm-aging (a chronic, low-grade inflammatory response which likely contributes to many age-related diseases and problems, such as osteoarthritis), occur in the aged horse similar to aged humans.
Our goals are to:
Characterize the effects of age on immune responses, with focus on immune responses to vaccination and the inflamm-aging process; and
Identify and understand the impact of nutritional and exercise interventions on immune and inflammatory responses.