Until now though, researchers didn't know why the body begins to develop chronic inflammation during old age. They only knew inflammation could lead to cognitive decline in the brain. Now, a new study has discovered that a set of immune cells are to blame — leading to the possibility of a new treatment that will reverse the mental damage of age.
Professor Katrin Andreasson, a neurologist at Stanford University, says myeloid cells go into inflammatory overdrive as people age. These cells in the brain, circulatory system, and peripheral tissues fight off infectious intruders. They also clean up debris such as dead cells or clumps of proteins and provide nutrients to healthy cells.
As organisms age however, the study finds myeloid cells start neglecting their helpful functions and start hunting for nonexistent pathogens instead. This inflammatory function damages otherwise healthy tissue that gets in the cell's way.