The lungs become more inflammatory with age and ibuprofen can lower that inflammation, according to an animal study published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.
In fact, immune cells from old mouse lungs fought tuberculosis bacteria as effectively as cells from young mice after lung inflammation was reduced by ibuprofen. The ibuprofen had no effect on the immune response to TB in young mice.
This was a rare look at inflammation in the aging lung environment by Ohio State University scientists who study the immune response to TB. The researchers already knew that old mice had a harder time clearing TB from the lungs than young mice, but had not investigated the role of lung inflammation in that response.
“Very few researchers have linked inflammation to infectious disease in old age, even though TB in particular will drive that inflammation even further,” said Joanne Turner, associate professor of microbial infection and immunity at Ohio State and senior author of the study.
“The inflammation-associated changes that we saw in the lung were a small finding, but an important finding because the implications are great,” Turner said. “We should be able to modify the environment in the lung. If we can reverse the inflammatory environment in a very straightforward way, that is a positive.”