Impact of aging immune system on neurodegeneration and potential immunotherapies

Zhanfeng Liang, Yang Zhao, Linhui Ruan, Linnan Zhu, Kunlin Jin, Qichuan Zhuge, Dong Ming Su, Yong Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The interaction between the nervous and immune systems during aging is an area of avid interest, but many aspects remain unclear. This is due, not only to the complexity of the aging process, but also to a mutual dependency and reciprocal causation of alterations and diseases between both the nervous and immune systems. Aging of the brain drives whole body systemic aging, including aging-related changes of the immune system. In turn, the immune system aging, particularly immunosenescence and T cell aging initiated by thymic involution that are sources of chronic inflammation in the elderly (termed inflammaging), potentially induces brain aging and memory loss in a reciprocal manner. Therefore, immunotherapeutics including modulation of inflammation, vaccination, cellular immune therapies and “protective autoimmunity” provide promising approaches to rejuvenate neuroinflammatory disorders and repair brain injury. In this review, we summarize recent discoveries linking the aging immune system with the development of neurodegeneration. Additionally, we discuss potential rejuvenation strategies, focusing aimed at targeting the aging immune system in an effort to prevent acute brain injury and chronic neurodegeneration during aging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-28
Number of pages27
JournalProgress in Neurobiology
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Aging
  • Immune system
  • Immunotherapy
  • Inflammation
  • Neurodegeneration


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