Several studies indicate reduced immune responses towards infectious diseases and vaccinations in the elderly, which is mainly caused by immunological ageing.

Research description:

Within my PhD project, we are investigating whether timely vaccinations in middle-aged individuals are successful to circumvent the deleterious effects of immunosenescence and possibly increase the memory immunity in the elderly. We aim to gain insight into the immunological fitness of middle-aged adults (between 50 and 65 years of age).

First of all, we investigated the effects of gender and chronic infection with CMV (Cytomegalovirus) on the immune phenotype of middle-aged adults. Moreover, we performed two different vaccination studies in middle-aged individuals, one using a primary meningococcal vaccination and the other a booster vaccination against shingles. Finally, we are investigating the possibilities to predict the vaccine response by using immunological biomarkers.

Interesting findings so far:

Our research indicates a major effect of sex on the immune phenotype of middle-aged persons, with male participants showing a pre aged phenotype accelerated by CMV carriage. Published in Scientific Reports:  DOI:10.1038/srep26892.

What makes ageing research interesting:

Population ageing not only affects the protection towards infectious diseases and vaccine response, but has an impact on the entire society. Therefore ageing research deals with very concrete and societal issues, which highly attracts my interest in this field.

My Institution(s):

  1. Centre for infectious disease control (Cib), National Institute of Public Health (RIVM ), the Netherlands
  2. Department of Rheumatology and clinical Immunology, Translational Immunology Groningen (TRIGR), UMCG, the Netherlands