Aging and the immune system: The impact of immunosenescence on viral infection, immunity and vaccine immunogenicity

Soo Jin Oh, Jae Kyung Lee, Ok Sarah Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Citations (Scopus)


Immunosenescence is characterized by a progressive deterioration of the immune system associated with aging. Multiple components of both innate and adaptive immune systems experience aging-related changes, such as alterations in the number of circulating monocytic and dendritic cells, reduced phagocytic activities of neutrophils, limited diversity in B/T cell repertoire, T cell exhaustion or inflation, and chronic production of inflammatory cytokines known as inflammaging. The elderly are less likely to benefit from vaccinations as preventative measures against infectious diseases due to the inability of the immune system to mount a successful defense. Therefore, aging is thought to decrease the efficacy and effectiveness of vaccines, suggesting aging-associated decline in the immunogenicity induced by vaccination. In this review, we discuss aging-associated changes in the innate and adaptive immunity and the impact of immunosenescence on viral infection and immunity. We further explore recent advances in strategies to enhance the immunogenicity of vaccines in the elderly. Better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying immunosenescence-related immune dysfunction will provide a crucial insight into the development of effective elderly-targeted vaccines and immunotherapies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere37
JournalImmune Network
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) and the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (NRF-2019R1A2C1005961).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019. The Korean Association of Immunologists.


  • Aging
  • Immunosenescence
  • Vaccines
  • Viral infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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