Apoptosis in Primary Lymphoid Organs with Aging

Rosa M. Sainz, Juan C. Mayo, R. J. Reiter, D. X. Tan, C. Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Age-associated changes in the immune system are responsible for an increased likelihood of infection, autoimmune diseases, and cancer in the elderly. Immunosenescence is characterized by reduced levels of the peripheral naive T cell pool derived from thymus and the loss of immature B lineage cells in the bone marrow. Primary lymphoid organs, i.e., bone marrow and thymus, exhibit a loss of cellularity with age, which is especially dramatic in the thymus. A summary of major changes associated with aging in primary lymphoid organs is described in this article. The participation of apoptosis in cell loss in the immune system, a change associated with age, as well as a description of molecular machinery involved, is presented. Finally, the involvement of different hormonal and non-hormonal agents in counteracting apoptosis in thymus and bone marrow during aging is explained. Here, we underlie the important role of glucocorticoids as immunodepressors and melatonin as an immunostimulatory agent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)524-539
Number of pages16
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 15 2003


  • Aging
  • Apoptosis
  • Bone marrow
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Melatonin
  • Thymus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Medical Laboratory Technology
  • Anatomy
  • Histology


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