Naive T cells in the elderly: are they still there?

Pfister,G.; Weiskopf,D.; Lazuardi,L.; Kovaiou,R.D.; Cioca,D.P.; Keller,M.; Lorbeg,B.; Parson,W.; Grubeck-Loebenstein,B.
One of the most striking changes in the primary lymphoid organs during human aging is the progressive involution of the thymus. As a consequence, the rate of naive T cell output dramatically declines with age and the peripheral T cell pool shrinks. These changes lead to increased incidence of severe infections and decreased protective effect of vaccinations in the elderly. Little is, however, known of the composition and function of the residual naive T cell repertoire in elderly persons. To evaluate the impact of aging on the naive T cell pool, we investigated the quantity, phenotype, function, composition, and senescence status of CD45RA(+)CD28(+) human T cells--a phenotype generally considered as naive cells--from both young and old healthy donors. We found a significant decrease in the number of CD45RA(+)CD28(+) T cells in the elderly, whereas the proliferative response of these cells is still unimpaired. In addition to their reduced number, CD45RA(+)CD28(+) T cells from old donors display significantly shorter telomeres and have a restricted TCR repertoire in nearly all 24 Vbeta families. These findings let us conclude that naive T cells cannot be classified with conventional markers in old age
Ann.N.Y.Acad.Sci 2006 1067:152-157
Tags: adult; aged; Aging; Antigens,CD28; Antigens,CD45; cell; comparative study; human; immunology; impact; Incidence; markers; Phenotype; T-Lymphocytes; Vaccination
PubMed: 16803980
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