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The Lancet Infectious Diseases (TLID)

Infection in an ageing world - For immediate release

Lancet

The average life expectancy throughout developed countries has rapidly increased during the latter half of the 20th century, and geriatric infectious diseases have become an increasingly important issue. Gaëtan Gavazzi and Karl-Heinz Krause (Department of Geriatrics, Geneva University Hospitals, Switzerland) explain in a review in the November issue of TLID how infections in the elderly are not only more frequent and more severe, but they also have distinct features with respect to clinical presentation, laboratory results, microbial epidemiology, treatment, and infection control. Moreover, ageing may be the cause of infection but infection can also be the cause of ageing. In a related commentary, Kevin High (Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston Salem, NC, USA)looks at how the "demographic imperative" of an ageing population has spawned a surge of interest in the interface of infection and ageing.

Bacteria tune-in and turn-on

Miguel Cámara (School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Nottingham, UK) and colleagues review the ways bacteria "tune-in" to each other through a process termed quorum sensing. This cell-to-cell communication allows bacteria to coordinate a unified attack on the host through the production of virulence factors. Communication relies on the production and sensing of small signal molecules. Since the level of signal molecule is a reflection of the population size, bacteria can sense when a quorum of their companions has accumulated sufficient to attack the host. Disruption of quorum sensing might be used to control infection.

Other reviews:

athogenesis of infections due to coagulase-negative staphylococci Christof von Eiff and colleagues, Institute of Medical Microbiology, University of Münster Hospital and Clinics, Münster, Germany

Q fever in children Helen C Maltezou and Didier Raoult, Faculté de Médecine, Université de la Méditerranée, Marseille, France

Testosterone therapy in HIV wasting syndrome Anthony Kong and Polly Edmonds, St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, UK

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