Socioeconomic and race/ethnic differences in immunosenescence: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study.
Noppert GA., Stebbins RC., Dowd JB., Aiello AE.
BackgroundThe COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need to understand variation in immunosenescence at the population-level. Thus far, population patterns of immunosenescence have not well described.MethodsWe characterized measures of immunosenescence from the 2016 Venous Blood Study from the nationally representative U.S Health and Retirement Study (HRS) of individuals ages 50 years and older.ResultsMedian values of the CD8+:CD4+, EMRA:Naïve CD4+ and EMRA:Naïve CD8+ ratios were higher among older participants and were lower in those with additional educational attainment. Generally, minoritized race and ethnic groups had immune markers suggestive of a more aged immune profile: Hispanics had a CD8+:CD4+ median value of 0.37 (95 % CI: 0.35, 0.39) compared to 0.30 in non-Hispanic Whites (95 % CI: 0.29, 0.31). Non-Hispanic Blacks had the highest median value of the EMRA:Naïve CD4+ ratio (0.08; 95 % CI: 0.07, 0.09) compared to non-Hispanic Whites (0.03; 95 % CI: 0.028, 0.033). In regression analyses, race/ethnicity and education were associated with large differences in the immune ratio measures after adjustment for age and sex.ConclusionsLower educational attainment and minoritized racial ethnic status were associated with higher levels of immunosenescence. This population variation may have important implications for both risk of age-related disease and vulnerability to emerging pathogens (e.g., SARS-CoV-2).