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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 520-527

Autoimmunity in the elderly: Implications for cancer

1 Department of Internal Medicine and Systemic Pathologies, University of Catania, Italy
2 Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Catania, Italy

Correspondence Address:
Erika Cristaldi
Department of Internal Medicine and Systemic Pathologies, Azienda Ospedaliera "Cannizzaro", via Messina 829, 95124 Catania
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Immunosenescence is the aging process involving the immune system competencies. These changes imply a reduced level of immunosurveillance against cancer onset and the occurrence of autoimmune phenomena. The clinical presentation of autoimmune diseases in the elderly is characterized in most cases by atypical features, insidious presentation and poor specificity of laboratory parameters. The role of autoimmune reactivity in the elderly either as a consequence of or as a risk factor for cancer development has aroused great interest among clinicians and researchers, as well as the influence of a chronic inflammatory state as a predisposing factor for autoimmunity and cancer occurrence. Particularly, we have investigated the pathogenetic effect of two cell subsets, Treg cells and Th17 lymphocytes, involved in the control mechanisms both of autoimmune reactions and cancer onset, as the possible future approach to treat cancer in older adults.

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