Allergic diseases in the elderly: Biological characteristics and main immunological and non-immunological mechanisms

M. T. Ventura, Nicola Scichilone, Roberto Paganelli, Paola Lucia Minciullo, Vincenzo Patella, Matteo Bonini, Giovanni Passalacqua, Carlo Lombardi, Livio Simioni, Erminia Ridolo, Stefano R. Del Giacco, Sebastiano Gangemi, Giorgio Walter Canonica

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Life expectancy and the number of elderly people are progressively increasing around the world. Together with other pathologies, allergic diseases also show an increasing incidence in geriatric age. This is partly due to the growing emphasis on a more accurate and careful diagnosis of the molecular mechanisms that do not allow to ignore the real pathogenesis of many symptoms until now unknown, and partly to the fact that the allergic people from 20 years ago represent the elderly population now. Moreover, environmental pollution predisposes to the onset of allergic asthma and dermatitis which are the result of internal pathologies more than the expression of allergic manifestations. At the same time the food contamination permits the onset of allergic diseases related to food allergy. In this review we provide the state of the art on the physiological changes in the elderly responsible for allergic diseases, their biological characteristics and the major immunological and extra immunological mechanisms. Much emphasis is given to the management of several diseases in the elderly, including anaphylactic reactions. Moreover, some new features are discussed, such as management of asthma with the support of physical activity and the use of the AIT as prevention of respiratory diseases and for the purpose of a real and long lasting benefit. The mechanisms of adverse reactions to drugs are also discussed, due to their frequency in this age, especially in polytherapy regimens. Study of the modifications of the immune system is also of great importance, as regards to the distribution of the lymphocytes and also the presence of a chronic inflammatory disease related to the production of cytokines, especially in prevision of all the possible therapies to be adopted to allow an active and healthy aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2
JournalClinical and Molecular Allergy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 3 2017


  • Aging
  • Allergy
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Asthma
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Drug reaction
  • Elderly
  • Food allergy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Urticaria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology


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