Increasing evidence has revealed the incidence of cancer augments with aging, which could be attributed to a multitude of age-associated changes including the dysregulation of the immune system. Although many reports demonstrate the efficacy of cancer immunotherapies in numerous preclinical studies, most experiments have been performed in young animals. Studies from our group and others show that cancer immunotherapy could be ineffective in old mice, even though the same therapeutic treatment works efficiently in young mice. Given that cancer occurs mostly in the elderly, we should take age-associated immune dysregulation into consideration to achieve the effectiveness of immunotherapeutic interventions in the old. Understanding both age-related and tumor-related immune alterations might be equally important in improving the effectiveness of immunotherapy. This article reviews a number of age-associated immune alterations with specific attention given to the impact on antitumor responses, and also discusses possible strategies for optimization of immunotherapeutic interventions in the elderly.
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