Behavior, Health, and Aging

By Stephen B. Manuck; Richard Jennings et al. | Go to book overview

do show some decline in T cell function. Even with normal or high baseline levels of T cell and NK cell activity, physically healthy older people may still be more vulnerable to experientially induced down-regulation and less capable of up-regulation than are young persons, in view of our findings in regard to mental stress and NK activity and those of Schleiffer and colleagues that depression-associated reduction in T cell activity is age-related ( Schleifer, Keller, Bond, Cohen, & Stein, 1989). There appears to be a very close correlation between physical and psychological well-being in the aged. Even subjective feelings of being older and of not having important events to look forward to in the relatively near future seem to have negative immunologic consequences in the elderly. An implication is that interventions aimed at improving coping, promoting positive anticipations, decreasing psychological distress, and encouraging community residence may help morbidity and even delay mortality in older persons. Depression should be promptly treated. Bereavement, which can be immunosuppressive ( Bartrop et al., 1977; Schleifer, Keller, Camerino, Thornton, & Stein, 1983; Irwin, Daniels, Smith, Bloom, & Weiner, 1987), should lead to social support, psychological intervention, or both. Exercise, except in frail elderly for whom we have recently found it to be associated with immunologic and functional decrements ( Rincon, Solomon, Benton, & Rubenstein, 1996), should be encouraged.


REFERENCES

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Bartrop R. W., Luckhurst E., Lazarus L., Kiloh L. G., & Penny R. ( 1997). Depressed lymphocyte function after bereavement. Lancet, 16, 834-836.

Brenner G., Dascal A., Margolese R., & Weinberg M. ( 1989). Natural killer cell function in patients with acquired immune deficiency and related syndromes. Journal of Leukocyte Biology, 46, 75-83.

Cammarata R., Rodman G., & Fennel R. ( 1967). Serum antigamma globulin and antinuclear factors in the aged. Journal of the American Medical Association, 199, 456-458.

Dybaker R., Lauritzen M., & Krakauer R. ( 1981). Relative reference values for clinical, chemical, and hematological quantities for healthy elderly people. Acta Medica Scandinavica, 209, 1-9.

Fiatorone M., Morley J., Bloom E., Benton D., Makinodan T., & Solomon G. ( 1988). Endogenous opioids and the exercise-induced augmentation of natural killer cell activity. Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine, 112, 544-552.

Fiatarone M., Morley J., Bloom E., Benton D., Solomon G., & Makinodan T. ( 1989). The effect of exercise on natural killer cell activity in young and old subjects. Journal of Gerontology, 44, M37-M45.

Goya R., Gagnerault M., DeMorales M., Savino W., & Dardenner A. ( 1992). In vivo effects of growth hormone on thymus function in aging mice. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 6, 341-354.

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