Immune System’s Ability to Respond to Spinal-cord Injuries Diminishes with Age

May 24, 2023 by

Joni Kipnis and Andrea Francesca M. Salvador

Joni Kipnis, PhD, and Andrea Francesca M. Salvador, PhD

New research suggests that the immune system’s ability to respond to spinal-cord injuries diminishes with age – and identifies potential avenues to improve that response and help patients heal.

The new findings offer important insights into how the immune system responds to spinal-cord injuries, and why that response becomes blunted with the passing years. Further, it reveals an important role for the membranes surrounding the spinal cord in mounting the immune response to spinal-cord injury. With this information, doctors one day may be able to bolster the body’s natural immune response to improve patient outcomes, particularly among older adults.

“Recently, it has been reported more aging individuals experience spinal cord injuries. Our findings suggest in aging, there is an impairment in how the immune response is initiated and resolved compared to young,” said researcher Andrea Francesca M. Salvador, who just received her PhD from the University of Virginia School of Medicine. “Hopefully, our results can help identify points of intervention and druggable targets that can improve recovery and address long-term consequences of injury such as pain.”

Read full press release in the UVA Health news room. 

Filed Under: Faculty, Research