Our ability to fight COVID-19 infection, and any other infection, depends on the ability of the immune system to replicate immune cells which target these infective agents. However, as you get older, the ability of our immune cells to replicate slows down and thus our ability to effectively fight off infection (READ MORE). In a new paper by Anderson, et al., the researchers established a detailed model which links COVID-19 mortality and age (Figure 1).
As DNA replicates during cell division, the end cap called the telomere, shortens following each replication. Following several replications, the cap gets too short and division stops. This is the case for immune cells. Additionally, the length of ones’ telomere is genetically inherited from their parents (READ MORE).
Using data which has been made publically available, the researchers built the model from data on COVID-19 mortality from the Center for Disease Control and US Census Bureau and other studies of telomeres.
Journal article: Anderson, J.J., et al., 2022. Telomere-length dependent T-cell clonal expansion: A model linking ageing to COVID-19 T-cell lymphopenia and mortality. EBioMedicine.
Summary by Stefan Botha