TH1 and TH2 cell polarization increases with aging and is modulated by zinc supplementation

Peter Uciechowski, Laura Kahmann, Birgit Plümäkers, Marco Malavolta, Eugenio Mocchegiani, George Dedoussis, Georges Herbein, Jolanta Jajte, Tamas Fulop, Lothar Rink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Elderly subjects suffer from increased levels of activated T cells and a TH1/TH2 imbalance. Zinc deficiency of the aged is correlated with decreased cell-mediated immune responses. The association of age and zinc adjustment with the amounts of TH1 (CCR5+) and TH2 (CCR4+) cell populations in healthy aged old donors enrolled in the European ZINCAGE project was examined. Old and nonagenarian individuals revealed increased TH1, TH2 cell numbers and a decreased TH2/TH1 ratio in comparison to young individuals. The differences between TH2/TH1 ratios of young and old/nonagenarians arose from young females. Adjusted zinc status led to enhanced TH2 and TH1 amounts in fresh whole blood and thawed cells of aged donors whereas increased HLA-DR+ expression and a generally lower CCR5 expression was observed on thawed PBMC. In conclusion, aging is associated with an increase in T helper cell polarization, and changes in TH2/TH1 subsets are more obvious in women than in men. Advanced healthy aging is accompanied by TH cell polarization, too. Moderate zinc supplementation in vivo alters TH proportions. Longer zinc treatment will give more insight into the beneficial effect of zinc on T helper cell modulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-498
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental Gerontology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2008


  • Activated T cells
  • CCR4/CCR5 ratio
  • Elderly
  • Serum zinc level
  • TH1/TH2 balance
  • Zinc deficiency
  • Zinc supplementation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Medicine(all)

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