During older ages, infectious diseases display a unique health threat. The immune system is subjected to ageing processes (“Immunosenescence”), which leads to both a reactivation of chronic infections and higher susceptibility to new pathogens. A more important factor for the higher susceptibility to infections during aging is co-morbidity. Thus, infections of older people often develop during an existing underlying disease, e.g. chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or stroke, and induce an immunosuppression. Contrary, COPD and neurodegenerative diseases can be impaired by infections.
In comparison to the general higher susceptibility to infections during aging, a more serious problem display pathogens resistant to antibiotics. In Germany the rate of infections with multi-resistant pathogens increases continuously. It is to be feared that bacterial hospital infections of seriously ill patients can only be treated with less effective and side-effects-abundant reserve-antibiotics. Frequently, older patients carry multi-resistant bacteria because of both earlier treatments with antibiotics and intensive contact to the public health service. All these reasons reveal that research on age-associated infections and immunity is applied research with higher importance.
Research on inflammatory diseases of the OVGU is complementary to the work of the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig, Germany. Within this module of the ESF-funded graduate school clinical-translational research on age-associated infectious diseases by the OVGU will be enabled.