Anti-pneumococcal deficits of monocyte-derived macrophages from the advanced-age, frail elderly and related impairments in PI3K-AKT signaling
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The advanced-age, frail elderly are especially vulnerable to developing pneumococcal infection and disease. Macrophages are critical mediators in the defence against Streptococcus pneumoniae at the upper respiratory tract, however, little is known of their anti-pneumococcal capacity in the elderly. Herein we demonstrate that monocyte-derived macrophages (MDMs) from the advanced-age, frail elderly produce less TNF, IL-6, IL-1β and IL-8 in response to heat-killed S. pneumoniae, which does not appear to be related to mRNA stability or decay. Furthermore, despite maintaining the ability to bind and phagocytose bacteria, MDMs from these individuals have a reduced capacity to kill S. pneumoniae. These defects parallel reduced PI3K-AKT signaling, which can significantly abrogate bacterial killing, but does not affect cytokine responses. Since macrophages are critical in the defence against S. pneumoniae, this study adds valuable insight into the susceptibility of the elderly to pneumococcal disease and highlights the PI3K-AKT signaling pathway as a potential therapeutic target.
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