Nowadays, people are living much longer than they used to do, however they are not free from ageing. Ageing, an inexorable intrinsic process that affects all cells, tissues, organs and individuals, is a post-maturational process that, due to a diminished homeostasis and increased organism frailty, causes a reduction of the response to environmental stimuli and, in general, is associated to an increased predisposition to illness and death. However, the high incidence of death due to infectious, cardiovascular and cancer diseases underlies a common feature in these pathologies that is represented by dysregulation of both instructive and innate immunity. Several studies show that a low-grade systemic inflammation characterizes ageing and that inflammatory markers are significant predictors of mortality in old humans. This pro-inflammatory status of the elderly underlies biological mechanisms responsible for physical function decline and agerelated diseases such as Alzheimers disease and atherosclerosis are initiated or worsened by systemic inflammation. Understanding of the ageing process should have a prominent role in new strategies for extending the health old population. Accordingly, as extensively discussed in the review and in the accompanying related papers, investigating ageing pathophysiology, particularly disentangling agerelated low grade inflammation, is likely to provide important clues about how to develop drugs that can slow or delay ageing.
Ageing, age-related diseases, diet, drug, inflammation, longevity
Immunosenescence Unit, Department of Pathobiology and Biomedical Methodologies, University of Palermo, Corso Tukory 211, 90134 Palermo, Italy.