Research developed at Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo (FMUSP) and published in the journal Immunity & Aging places chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) among those that lead to premature aging of the immune system. The finding may be a way to explain why individuals with the disease have a lower response to vaccines and are more susceptible to infectious processes, for example.

The researchers concluded that COPD patients present a set of alterations linked to cellular aging, a process called immunosenescence, which affects CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes, impairing the immune response.

To carry out the study, 92 people were recruited, divided into four groups: patients with COPD, smokers without evidence of lung disease, healthy elderly and young adults. The scientists analyzed seven markers associated with late differentiation, senescence and cell exhaustion for each of these groups.

They concluded that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have cells that express a full range of senescent or depleted phenotypes, consistent with features of premature aging of the immune system.

COPD is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by airflow obstruction and commonly induced by cigarette smoke and air pollution. It affects about 64 million people worldwide, according to an estimate by the World Health Organization (WHO), with approximately 6 million in Brazil, of which 60% of cases would be smokers or ex-smokers.

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