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TILDA collaborates with the Milieu Intérieur project to answer key questions on aging and inflammation

Immune dysregulation (a breakdown in the functioning of the immune system), particularly when related to inflammatory responses, plays a role in the origin and development of age-associated diseases. There is however a lack of information in human populations about how and why this dysregulation occurs during human ageing. This collaboration, led by Dr Nollaig Bourke (TCD), and Dr. Darragh Duffy (Institute Pasteur), will explore this using participants in large, well-established cohort studies and novel analytic approaches.

The Milieu Intérieur (MI) project coordinated by Professor Lluis Quintana-Murci and Dr Darragh Duffy at Institut Pasteur (IP), was established in 2011 with the aim of defining factors (genetic, epigenetic, nutritional, and environmental) that contribute to different types of immune responses observed at the individual and population level.

The MI project established a cohort of 1,000 healthy volunteers, aged between 20 and 69, from a population with similar genetic makeup. Using standardised tools as seen here for monitoring functional immune responses, MI has created a rich repository of biological samples and a data-warehouse that provide key insights into what characterises a healthy immune response in humans and its natural variation across individuals. The dataset has broad applicability and is currently used for various clinical studies. ranging from infection to autoimmunity and allergy.

The MI project is now collaborating with The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), Principal Investigator Professor Rose Anne Kenny, to study immune responses in older people.

The MI analytic methods will be applied to the existing TILDA longitudinal ageing cohort. This combining of biological samples from the TILDA participants (DNA, plasma, and RNA) with MI analysis methodology will lead to a better understanding of immunity, inflammation and ageing, and how “inflammaging” contributes to the development of age associated medical conditions. This will be important for our understanding of the role of the immune system in the development of morbidities in aging, as well as why older people are more susceptible to infectious diseases, like COVID-19, and what parts of the immune response needs to be boosted when vaccinating older people.

The Milieu Intérieur project is supported by the French National Ministry of Research. This program is part of a larger French government's Invest in the Future economic stimulus plan called Investissement d'Avenir - Laboratoire d’Excellence (LabEx). TILDA is supported by funding from the Department of Health; Health Research Board; Science Foundation Ireland; Atlantic Philanthropies; and Irish Life.

Contact Milieu Intérieur to know more about the healthy cohort dataset and to read publications by Milieu Intérieursee here.