Immune Aging and Chronic Infections

T cells are immune cells important for the defence against viruses. The on-going exposure to cytomegalovirus impairs their function. 
In the picture: Two T cells (red) interacting with a dendritic…

“Back then, I wasn’t ill so often”: With advancing age not only the skin loses its elasticity – many organs lose their functions. So does the immune system: Defense cells do not react promptly anymore, and immunological memory is not established. As a result, we are poorly protected by vaccines and more susceptible to infections. While the mechanisms of immune aging remain unknown, it is speculated that chronic viral infections play a crucial role in this age-related loss of immune functions. Read more about how pathogens may have an impact on the real age of our immune system.

Prof Dr Luka Cicin-Sain

"I have always been fascinated by the complexity of the interactions between viral pathogens and their hosts and the intellectual challenge posed in understanding the various facets of their interplay."

Born in Croatia, Luka Cicin-Sain studied medicine at the University of Rijeka, his hometown. In 1996, he received his M.D. After that he studied biomedicine and spent a year as a research fellow at the Lund university in Sweden. In 2001, he passed the Croatian state exam in human medicine in Zagreb. While working as a physician he was fascinated with biology. Until 2004 he worked at the Max von Pettenkofer Institute for Hygiene and Medical Microbiology in Munich. In 2004, he finished his Master of Science in biomedicine at the University of Rijeka, followed by his Ph.D. in 2006. After a five year stay as a postdoctoral fellow and subsequently a research assistant professor at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Insitute of the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, USA he came to HZI in 2010 to work as a young investigator, leading the junior research group "Immune senescence and Chronic Infections".


  • Prof M.D., PhD Luka Cicin-Sain

    Luka Cicin-Sain

    Head of the Junior Research Group Immune Aging and Chronic Infections

    +49 531 6181-4616

    +49 531 6181-4699



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Audio Podcast

  • Immunologischer Altersstarrsinn – Wie unser Immunsystem im Laufe des Lebens seine Anpassungsfähigkeit einbüßt
    Mit uns wird auch unser Immunsystem immer älter und schwächer. Unsere Lebenserwartung steigt, das Immunsystem altert aber deswegen nicht langsamer. Die Folge: Wir werden häufiger und schwerer krank. Welche Faktoren unser Immunsystem altern lassen, untersucht Luka Cicin-Sain am Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung (HZI). Folgen Sie dem Forscher ins Zelllabor und hören Sie, wie er einen Weg sucht, um das Altern des Immunsystems aufzuhalten…