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Socio-Economic Status and Immunosenescence


Aiello, Allison E. & Dowd, Jennifer Beam (2013). Socio-Economic Status and Immunosenescence.. Bosch, Jos A.; Phillips, Anna C.; & Lord, Janet M. (Eds.) (pp. 145-157). New York: Springer.


Across the world, wealth and health go hand in hand. Those with fewer educational and economic resources live shorter lives and experience the onset of chronic disease and loss of functioning at an earlier age on average than their more advantaged peers (Adler and Stewart, Ann NY Acad Sci 1186 (The Biology of Disadvantage: Socioeconomic Status and Health):5–23, 2010; Mackenbach, Soc Sci Med 71(7):1249–1253, 2010). Recent estimates show over a 6-year difference in life expectancy at age 25 for those below the US poverty line compared to those in the top 35 % of the income distribution (Braveman et al., Am J Public Hlth 100(S1):S186–196, 2010). In Europe, similar socio-economic differences are seen but sometimes of different magnitude across countries. Educational inequalities range from a relative mortality risk that is four times higher for men with the lowest compared to the highest educational attainment in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Lithuania, to less than two times that of those with the most education in Sweden and Spain (Mackenbach et al., New Engl J Med 358(23):2468, 2008). While the biological mechanisms underlying these socio-economic health inequalities or “disparities” are not well understood, they are often discussed in the context of accelerated aging (Crimmins et al., J Gerontol Series A: Biol Sci Med Sci 64A(2):286–292, 2009). Among the biological systems that have been investigated, studies of cardiovascular, metabolic, and neuroendocrine markers are the most common (Dowd et al., Epidemiol 20(6):902–908, 2009; Seeman et al., Soc Sci Med 66(1):72–87, 2008). Despite the importance of immunosenescence in aging, research on the contribution of the immune system to health disparities until recently has been quite limited.


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Aiello, Allison E.
Dowd, Jennifer Beam