Ageing and the border between health and disease

William MacNee, Roberto A Rabinovich, Gourab Choudhury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ageing is associated with a progressive degeneration of the tissues, which has a negative impact on the structure and function of vital organs and is among the most important known risk factors for most chronic diseases. Since the proportion of the world's population aged >60 years will double in the next four decades, this will be accompanied by an increased incidence of chronic age-related diseases that will place a huge burden on healthcare resources. There is increasing evidence that many chronic inflammatory diseases represent an acceleration of the ageing process. Chronic pulmonary diseases represents an important component of the increasingly prevalent multiple chronic debilitating diseases, which are a major cause of morbidity and mortality, particularly in the elderly. The lungs age and it has been suggested that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition of accelerated lung ageing and that ageing may provide a mechanistic link between COPD and many of its extrapulmonary effects and comorbidities. In this article we will describe the physiological changes and mechanisms of ageing, with particular focus on the pulmonary effects of ageing and how these may be relevant to the development of COPD and its major extrapulmonary manifestations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1332-52
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


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