On the basis of the strict analogies between polymorphonuclear cell (PMN) alterations in the aging and depressed functional capacities displayed by apoptotic PMN, we investigated the possible occurrence of age-associated changes in neutrophil apoptosis, either spontaneous or induced by Fas antigen (CD95) activation. In both cases, old subjects exhibited a time course kinetics of neutrophil apoptosis, as assessed by morphologic and quantitative DNA fragmentation analysis, which overlapped that observed in the young. These findings were confirmed by DNA ladder analysis, showing a progressive increase in DNA cleavage products in cells cultured in medium alone or added with agonistic anti-Fas IgM (CH-11) monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), after 12 and 6 hr of incubation, respectively. Aged purified neutrophils constitutively expressed CD95, at levels similar to those observed in the young. Moreover, although we failed to detect Fas ligand expression on PMN surface, treatment of cell cultures with antagonistic anti-Fas IgG1 (ZB4) mAbs determined a significant inhibition of spontaneous apoptosis in neutrophils from both groups of subjects, thus suggesting that the Fas/Fas ligand system is in fact involved in such an event. The results indicate that the overall intrinsic mechanisms regulating neutrophil cell death are not affected by age. Yet aged neutrophils showed a diminished capacity to be rescued by proinflammatory mediators, such as granulocyte-monocyte colony- stimulating factor, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, and bacterial lipopolysaccharide, following Fas activation. This may hamper the accumulation of functionally active cells in inflammatory areas in vivo, thus contributing to the increased susceptibility of elderly individuals to life- threatening infections.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy