Immune parameters in a populatio of institutionalized elderly subjects: influence of depressive disorders and endocrinological correlations

Carlo Bartoloni, Luisa Guidi, Daniela Frasca, Leonardo Antico, Roberto Pili, Flavio Cursi, Angela Di Giovanni, Carlo Rumi, Edoardo Menini, Pierugo Carbonin, Gino Doria, Gino Gambassi

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14 Scopus citations


Twenty-six institutionalized elderly subjects, selected as healthy according to the SENIEUR protocol, were compared to adult controls to establish correlations between affective disorders and immune abnormalities and to investigate underlying neuroendocrine mechanisms. After an extensive psychodiagnostic examination, 35% of the aged subjects were classified as depressed. Cutaneous delayed hypersensitivity tests showed reduced responses in the aged, but no correlation was found with the psychological status. Examination of the peripheral blood lymphocyte subsets revealed no imbalance in the percentages of CD3+, CD4+, CD8+ cells in the aged. A slight reduction in the CD4+/CD8+ cell ration could however be detected in the non-depressed aged, as compared to adult controls. The CD4+/CD45R+ cell subset was reduced in non-depressed aged. The percentage of B lymphocytes was reduced in the aged, mostly in the non-depressed subjects. No changes were detected in the percent of OKDR+ cells. The percentage of CD16+ cells was found unchanged, while that of Leu7+ cells was significantly higher in the aged than in the adults and in the non-depressed than in the depressed aged. Leu7+ cell levels were negatively correlated with the depression score. On double labelling, the percent of CD16+/ Leu7+ cells appears increased in the subgroup of depressed aged and positively correlated with age. Plasmatic and urinary cortisol levels were both positively correlated with depression score. Urinary cortisol level was higher in the depressed aged. These parameters, as well as plasmatic ACTH. β-endorphin and urinary catecholamines, were not correlated with immune responses. Based on these findings, we recommend that the neuroendocrinological conditions should be taken into account when healthy subjects are examined in studies of immune senescene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Cutaneous delayed hypersensitivity
  • Lymphocyte subsets
  • Psychoneuroendocrinoimmunology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Biochemistry
  • Developmental Biology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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