Autonomic nervous system imbalance during aging contributes to impair endogenous anti-inflammaging strategies

Author: Sergio Giunta1, Shijin Xia2, Giuseppe Pelliccioni3, Fabiola Olivieri4,5
1 Casa Di Cura Prof. Nobili (Gruppo Garofalo (GHC)), Castiglione Dei Pepoli, Bologna, Italy.
2 Department of Geriatrics, Shanghai Institute of Geriatrics, Huadong Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.
3 Unit of Neurology, IRCCS INRCA, Ancona, Italy.
4 Department of Clinical and Molecular Sciences, DISCLIMO, Università Politecnica Delle Marche, Via Tronto 10/A, 60126, Ancona, Italy.
5 Clinical Laboratory and Molecular Diagnostic, IRCCS INRCA, Ancona, Italy.
Conference/Journal: Geroscience
Date published: 2023 Oct 11
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1007/s11357-023-00947-7. , Word Count: 298

Inflammaging refers to the age-related low grade, sterile, chronic, systemic, and long-lasting subclinical, proinflammatory status, currently recognized as the main risk factor for development and progression of the most common age-related diseases (ARDs). Extensive investigations were focused on a plethora of proinflammatory stimuli that can fuel inflammaging, underestimating and partly neglecting important endogenous anti-inflammaging mechanisms that could play a crucial role in such age-related proinflammatory state. Studies on autonomic nervous system (ANS) functions during aging highlighted an imbalance toward an overactive sympathetic nervous system (SNS) tone, promoting proinflammatory conditions, and a diminished parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) activity, playing anti-inflammatory effects mediated by the so called cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway (CAP). At the molecular level, CAP is characterized by signals communicated via the vagus nerve (with the possible involvement of the splenic nerves) through acetylcholine release to downregulate the inflammatory actions of macrophages, key players of inflammaging. Notably, decreased vagal function and increased burden of activated/senescent macrophages (macrophaging) probably precede the development of several age-related risk factors and diseases, while increased vagal function and reduced macrophaging could be associated with relevant reduction of risk profiles. Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) is another pathway related to ANS promoting some anti-inflammatory response mainly through increased cortisol levels. In this perspective review, we highlighted that CAP and HPA, representing broadly "anti-inflammaging" mechanisms, have a reduced efficacy and lose effectiveness in aged people, a phenomenon that could contribute to fuel inflammaging. In this framework, strategies aimed to re-balance PNS/SNS activities could be explored to modulate systemic inflammaging especially at an early subclinical stage, thus increasing the chances to reach the extreme limit of human lifespan in healthy status.

Keywords: Anti-inflammaging; Autonomic imbalance; Cardiovascular-inflammaging; Cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway (CAP); Diminished parasympathetic activity; HPA axis; Increased sympathetic tone; Inflammaging; Macrophaging.

PMID: 37821752 DOI: 10.1007/s11357-023-00947-7