The more familiar autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are not all that age-related. Like cancer in young adults, they are a rare and unlucky happenstance, a form of most likely random cellular malfunction that spreads far enough to cause major problems. In later life, however, there occur a wide range of less familiar, less categorized, and comparatively poorly understood autoimmune conditions. It is an area of active research and many unknowns – look at just how recently type 4 diabetes was identified, for example.
These age-related autoimmunities arise from the chaotic failure of the immune system in late life. Cells fall into a variety of unhealthy states, malfunctioning cells dominate over useful cells, the immune system as a whole flails, producing chronic inflammation while failing at its primary tasks, and the supply of new competent immune cells diminishes dramatically. The publication here considers just one type of problem immune cell, those that have become senescent. This, fortunately, is an area in which solutions lie just around the corner. There is every reason to believe that senescent immune cells will just as vulnerable to destruction by senolytic therapies as any other kind