As inflammation that occurs naturally with aging includes a higher risk of developing pneumonia, researchers showed in a study that antibiotics might not be enough to treat pneumonia in older patients. A report from Lung Disease News indicates that aging is associated with a chronic and basic level of inflammation, which is highly linked to diseases such as pneumonia, dementia, and cardiovascular disease. In older adults, when inflammation is needed to fight an infection, the already enhanced inflammatory state of the patient increases even further and may remain afterwards.

Exposure to high levels of inflammation appears to impair the capacity of white blood cells to fight the infection. With the use of animal models, Dawn Bowdish, PhD, and colleagues found that the elevated levels of inflammation in old mice caused white blood cells to enter the bloodstream in an immature form, leading to an even greater level of inflammation, according to Lung Disease News. Lowering the level of inflammation in the young mice had no effect; however, reducing the levels in the old ones helped them fight the infection.

“It sounds counter-intuitive to limit inflammatory responses during a bacterial infection, but clinical observations and our research indicates anti-bacterial strategies need to be tailored to the age of the patient,” Bowdish, the senior author of the study, said. “Our study in mice is consistent with clinical studies that recommend using anti-inflammatories as part of treatment to improve older adults’ defense against pneumonia, and that points to the development of better care.”

The Lung Disease News report indicates that the research was based on a previous study reporting that older adults with pneumonia got better after treatment with antibiotics combined with corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.

The study was conducted by the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University.

Source: Lung Disease News