Age-related diseases involve a wide range of factors such as chronic antigenic stress, inflammatory status and genetic background, which affect immune system and its homeostatic mechanisms. In the last years several types of cells involved in the regulation of the immune system have been identified. It is believed that cells with regulatory functions play a central role in the control of autoimmunity and inflammation.
In our study we have evaluated some subsets of cells with regulatory functions, such as NKT, CD8+CD28-, CD4-CD8- T lymphocytes and T regulatory cells (TREGs) identified as CD4+, CD25 high, FOXP3+. We performed our study on young subjects, healthy and cardiopathic elderly people.
Our data show a significant increase of TREGs (CD4+CD25highFoxP3+) and CD4-CD8- T cells in elderly who have been affected with heart attack.
On the contrary we find no differences in the percentage of all the other cell types studied in young, old and elderly people with heart disease.
These data can explain immunodeficiency observed following heart attack, moreover can be explained as the it has been described that T cells with regulatory functions act in response to injuries ( i.e. burn) to remodel damaged tissues.