Universiteit Leiden

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Aging and Immunity

The Aging and Immunity group is led by Dr. Amanda Foks. In this group we aim to investigate how aged immune cells contribute to atherosclerosis and identify novel therapeutic targets and strategies to extend health span and inhibit cardiovascular disease.

As we age, our immune system undergoes a gradual functional decline, causing impaired responsiveness to stress and weakened maintenance of homeostasis, also called immunosenescence. Immunosenescence strongly contributes to disease susceptibility and mortality in the elderly. With the extension of life expectancy and a rapidly increasing aging population, it has become a major public health priority to enhance our understanding of the age-associated functional decline of our immune system. Aging is one of the most dominant drivers of cardiovascular diseases, which are the leading cause of mortality worldwide. An acute cardiovascular event, such as a myocardial infarction or stroke, often occurs at advanced age and can be triggered by rupture of an atherosclerotic lesion, which consists of lipids and immune cell infiltrates. How aging of the immune system contributes to atherosclerosis needs to be further investigated.

Our research focuses on:

  1. enhancing our understanding of the molecular and cellular processes of aging during atherosclerosis
  2. discovery of novel senescence markers
  3. development of therapeutic targets and strategies that inhibit or reverse aging of the immune system and can prevent or delay the onset of cardiovascular disease in men and women
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