• We studied the effects of age and a relatively standardized stress (elective inguinal herniorrhaphy) on immune response. The patients included 20 men, ten at least 60 years old and ten younger, who were free of infection and illness and had not had prior surgery. Immune responses were measured one day before and five and 30 days after operation. We determined immunoglobulin levels, performed three delayed-hypersensitivity skin tests and a test for neutrophil chemotaxis, and measured lymphocyte responses to autologous cells, phytohemagglutinin-P (PHA), concanavalin A (Con A), and pokeweed. We also studied responses in 40 controls matched for age and sex. The responses to PHA and Con A were significantly lower in older patients than in controls at five days after operation; responses to Con A were still significantly lower at 30 days. Morbidity correlated with depressed immune responses in both age groups, even when there was no difference between older and younger patients.
(Arch Surg 1983;118:405-409)