Over-the-Counter Drugs May Restore Immune Function: Ibuprofen Beats Old Age

First Posted: Sep 02, 2014 01:00 PM EDT

It turns out that ibuprofen may just be what our immune systems need as they age. Scientists have found that although the macrophages from the lungs of old mice responded differently than those of young mice, ibuprofen reversed these changes.

"Inflammation in old age can have significant consequences on immune function," said Joanne Turner, one of the researchers, in a news release. "With this knowledge, it may be possible to reduce or prevent some diseases in the elderly by decreasing inflammation with diet, exercise and/or drugs."

The researchers first learned about the possible use of ibuprofen by measuring inflammatory markers in the total lung or within purified macrophage populations of young healthy mice and old healthy mice. Inflammatory markers were elevated in old mice, and isolated macrophages from both old and young healthy mice responded differentially to infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Then, the scientists placed a group of old, but healthy, mice on an ibuprofen supplemented diet. In the end, they found that this reduced inflammation and actually restored immune function in the old mice.

"This may give new meaning to the phrase 'take two aspirins and call me in the morning,'" said John Wherry, Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

In fact, the findings reveal that the key to more youthful immune function may just be ibuprofen. That said, this study was conducted on mice. Scientists will have to conduct further research before applying their findings to humans. Yet this does show a possible avenue for future research.

The findings are published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

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