Affiliations: Department of Genetics, Cell and Immunobiology, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
Correspondence to: G. Csaba, Department of Genetics, Cell and Immunobiology, Semmelweis University,
Budapest, Hungary. Tel.: +3630 3479362; E-mail: [email protected].
Abstract: Thymus is the central organ of immunity, which has a decisive role in the selection and removal of the autoreactive lymphocytes. The pineal gland influences the sustenance and function of thymus, the neonatal removal of thymus as well as pineal gland causes the total collapse of the immune system. Involution of pineal and/or thymus after adolescence permits the manifestation of autoimmune processes, causing the aging and determining the lifespan. Thymus involution is not a consequence of the general involution caused by the progressing age, but a prime mover of it. The pacemaker of aging could be in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the brain, which is in neural and chemical contact with the the pineal body and the executor is the thymus, regulating the autoimmunity. From this aspect aging is caused by the continuous slow wearing of cells and organs by autoimmunity. A certain degree of autoimmunity is a natural process, which causes manifest disease if becomes enormously strong or directed towards a special organ or system. The velocity of the slow wearing as well, as the functional importance of the target organs determines the lifespan. Outer factors can not prolong the lifespan however, can shorten it by increasing thymic involution, consequently influencing autoimmunity.