One of the reasons for the increased susceptibility to infections in patients with Alzheimer disease may be enhanced apoptotic death of their peripheral leukocytes. If this is the case, the enhanced apoptosis may be due to components in the patients' sera or to an increased sensitivity of the cells to apoptotic stimuli. To examine this possibility, the percentage of apoptotic cells in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from 12 patients with Alzheimer disease was compared with that of 12 age-matched non-demented persons and 12 middle-aged healthy control subjects. In addition, the effect of sera from subjects in the three groups on the apoptosis, interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-2, IL-6, IL-10, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α production by peripheral blood cells from healthy control subjects was examined. It was found that the percentage of apoptotic PBMC from patients with Alzheimer disease was higher than that from the remaining two groups. However, incubation of control cells with sera from patients with Alzheimer disease and non-demented elderly persons did not affect the number of apoptotic cells. Sera from patients with Alzheimer disease and non-demented elderly subjects caused an increase in IL-2 and a decrease in IL-10 production by PBMC from middle-aged control subjects but did not affect IL-1β, IL-6, and TNFα secretion, indicating alterations of the immune system related to aging.
- Alzheimer disease