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Common painkiller may treat ageing lungs

New York: Researchers have found that ibuprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkiller, could reduce lung inflammation associated with ageing.

Immune cells from old mouse lungs fought tuberculosis bacteria as effectively as cells from young mice after lung inflammation was reduced by ibuprofen, the findings showed.

The drug had no effect on the immune response to TB in young mice.

"Very few researchers have linked inflammation to infectious disease in old age, even though TB in particular will drive that inflammation even further," said senior study author Joanne Turner, an associate professor at Ohio State University, US.

"The inflammation-associated changes we saw in the lungs were important findings because the implications are great," Turner added.

Though the research was conducted on mice, Turner co-led a previous study indicating that both mouse and human lungs develop the same profile of pro-inflammatory proteins and fatty molecules with age, creating an environment that impairs the immune response to infection.

In this new study, the researchers compared lung cells from old and young mice and found that in the old mice, genes that make three classic pro-inflammatory proteins, called cytokines, were more active in the lungs of old mice.

The researchers gave old and young mice ibuprofen in their food for two weeks and then examined their lung cells.

After this diet modification, several pro-inflammatory cytokines in the lungs of old mice had been reduced to levels identical to those in the lungs of young mice, and the macrophages in old mouse lungs were no longer in a primed state.

The research was published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

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