Aging and Down syndrome: The immune system and beyond

People with Down syndrome show clinical features associated with advanced aging, including increased susceptibility to infections and impaired response to several vaccines, including to influenza and COVID-19.

We recently generated a uniquely detailed atlas of the immune system in people with Down syndrome and generated a new, generalizable, analysis approach to show that the immune system of a person with Down syndrome resembles that of a typical individual up to 17 years older! We are working to understand how we can use immune age to better guide clinical care already.

We are also further dissecting how trisomy 21 drives advanced immune aging, so that we can design therapies to reverse immune aging in people with, and ultimately without, Down syndrome. Notably, these efforts showed us how building “lenses” based on the biology of people with Down syndrome can reveal similar immune dysregulation in other autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes. Thus, we are working to expand our repertoire of “lenses” to uncover more pathobiologic links.

This work is in close collaboration with Dr. Rebecca Partridge and the regional Down syndrome community. Learn more about our Down syndrome biorepository.