Systematic review on the effects of physical exercise on cellular immunosenescence-related markers - An update

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Immunosenescence is a remodeling of the immune system occurring with aging that leads to an increased susceptibility to auto-immunity, infections and reduced vaccination response. A growing consensus supports the view that physical exercise may counteract immunosenescence and improve the immune response. Unfortunately, evidence regarding the effects of exercise on markers of cellular immunosenescence lacked uniformity at the time of an extensive literature review in 2016. Moreover, exercise-induced effects in older adults were underrepresented compared to young adults or completely lacking, such as for senescent T-cells and apoptosis of T-lymphocytes. The aim of this systematic literature study was to collect and appraise newly available data regarding exercise-induced changes on immunosenescence-related markers of immune cells and compare this against data that was already available in 2016. Systematically reviewing of newly available data in the field of exercise immunology provides additional evidence for the effect of exercise on immunosenescence-related cellular markers. Importantly, this review provides evidence for the effect of long-term exercise on senescent T-lymphocytes in older adults. Additionally, newly retrieved evidence shows an acute exercise-induced mobilization of naïve and memory cells in older adults. In general, data regarding long-term exercise-induced effects in older adults remain scarce. Noteworthy was the high number of articles describing exercise-induced effects on regulatory T-cells. However exercise-induced effects on this cell type are still inconclusive as some articles reported an exercise-induced up- or downregulation, while others reported no effects at all. Numerous studies on Natural Killer cell counts did not provide uniformity among data that was already available. Recent data regarding dendritic cells mostly described an increase after exercise. Overall, our literature update highlights the major influence of the type and intensity of exercise on immunosenescence-related markers, especially in older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111318
JournalExperimental Gerontology
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Inc.


  • Aged
  • Exercise
  • Immunosenescence
  • Natural killer cell
  • T-cell


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