Infants and elderly suffer disproportionately from infections and do not respond as well to vaccination as do older children or adults. We provide evidence that the immune system at the extremes of age is actively suppressed. Cord blood and peripheral blood of young infants and the elderly contain substantial numbers of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC), and these cells potently suppress T-cell proliferation. HIV-infected individuals also have an increased frequency of peripheral MDSC even while on antiretroviral therapy. We believe that understanding how MDSC suppress neonatal/infant/elderly and HIV-infected individual's immune responses could lead to novel therapeutics to improve vaccine responsiveness.
Ana Gervassi is a staff scientist at Seattle BioMedical Research Institute in Helen Horton’s laboratory. Originally from Mexico City, she did her undergraduate studies at the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France and her Master’s and Ph.D. at the University of Washington. She has worked in vaccine immunology both in the academic and private sector.