Immunology of Aging
The population of humans worldwide is growing older as a result of improvements in public health, social services, and medical health care. Aging is the biological process of declining physiologic functions associated with increasing mortality rates during advancing age. Nonhuman primates are genetically and physiological similar to humans and comparative studies are expected to greatly contribute to our understanding about the basic mechanisms of aging in humans. Interestingly, persons infected with HIV are living longer because of the efficacy of anti-retroviral treatment (ART) and the majority of HIV-infected persons are estimated now to be 50 years or older. These individuals however often develop HIV-associated non-AIDS (HANA) conditions that are strikingly similar to many common chronic inflammatory diseases of aging, but that occur earlier than in uninfected individuals. Investigators at the Center for Comparative Medicine are using such animal models of aging and HIV infection to study the mechanisms of chronic inflammation associated with the aging process.