Tags: aging | frailty | Cytomegaloviruses | muscle

5 Signs of Age-Related Frailty

By Wednesday, 02 March 2016 04:18 PM Current | Bio | Archive

As we age, many people’s adaptive immune systems begin to weaken, making them much more susceptible to infections of all kinds. This also means that it will take them a lot longer to recover from infections.

Every year, I hear from people who say they suffered from the flu for weeks or even months before they could get over it. That is a very dangerous sign of a weakened adaptive immune system.

New studies are finding that when the immune system ages this way, it not only increases the risk for infection, it also increases the risk of developing autoimmune diseases and many kinds of neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

In the past, it was thought that autoimmune diseases occurred when a healthy immune system accidentally mistook part of the body’s own cells for a foreign invader. This is a phenomenon referred to as “molecular mimicry.”

Now, however, we know that these types of diseases can only occur if the immune system is abnormal — that is, if the adaptive immune system is not working properly.

A large number of people have latent (persistent) infections that have been lying silent in their bodies for a number of years, even a lifetime. Among other organisms, these can include:

• Herpes viruses

• Cytomegaloviruses (CMV)

• Lyme disease spirochetes

• Fungal infections

When a person’s immune system is normal and balanced, it can keep these infections silent and harmless.

But when the adaptive immune system (which contains all of the body’s immune memory files) is broken, the innate system then actually becomes the enemy, as it tries to attack awakened infections.

Yet while the innate immune system constantly attacks these now-active organisms, it can never completely eliminate them. As a result, the constant immune reaction fills the body with harmful immune compounds such as cytokines, chemokines, and interferons.

This abundance of immune compounds can make a person feel extremely fatigued, weakened, and unable to function.

It can also result in painful joints and muscles, and over time lead to gradual loss of memory, concentration, and the ability to learn new material.

Over several years, this condition can cause so much damage to the body that a person becomes physically debilitated and mentally diminished. We call this senescence or frailty.

There are five signs of frailty:

1. Loss of muscle tissue (weight loss)

2. Weak hand grip

3. Exhaustion

4. Reduced speed of walking

5. Overall reduced activity

In essence, this frailty is caused by a state of ongoing inflammation caused by unrelenting immune activation.

The risk of becoming frail can be predicted by certain laboratory tests, such as tests that show an elevated level of the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) or having a positive test for an infection from cytomegalovirus, herpes virus, or Lyme disease.

Persistently elevated levels of high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) — which is a nonspecific measure of inflammation — is also a predictor of frailty.

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Every year, I hear from people who say they suffered from the flu for weeks or even months before they could get over it. That is a very dangerous sign of a weakened adaptive immune system.
aging, frailty, Cytomegaloviruses, muscle
Wednesday, 02 March 2016 04:18 PM
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