Low-affinity TCR engagement drives IL-2-dependent post-thymic maintenance of naive CD4+ T cells in aged humans
SourceAging Cell, 14, 5, (2015), pp. 744-753
Article / Letter to editor
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Laboratory of Medical Immunology
Paediatrics - OUD tm 2017
SubjectRadboudumc 5: Inflammatory diseases RIMLS: Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences
Insight into the maintenance of naive T cells is essential to understand defective immune responses in the context of aging and other immune compromised states. In humans, naive CD4+ T cells, in contrast to CD8+ T cells, are remarkably well retained with aging. Here, we show that low-affinity TCR engagement is the main driving force behind the emergence and accumulation of naive-like CD4+ T cells with enhanced sensitivity to IL-2 in aged humans. In vitro, we show that these CD45RA(+) CD25(dim) CD4(+) T cells can develop from conventional naive CD25(-) CD4+ T cells upon CD3 cross-linking alone, in the absence of costimulation, rather than via stimulation by the homeostatic cytokines IL-2, IL-7, or IL-15. In vivo, TCR engagement likely occurs in secondary lymphoid organs as these cells were detected in lymph nodes and spleen where they showed signs of recent activation. CD45RA(+) CD25(dim) CD4+ T cells expressed a broad TCRVbeta repertoire and could readily differentiate into functional T helper cells. Strikingly, no expansion of CD45RA(+) CD25(dim) CD8+ T cells was detected with aging, thereby implying that maintenance of naive CD4+ T cells is uniquely regulated. Our data provide novel insight into the homeostasis of naive T cells and may guide the development of therapies to preserve or restore immunity in the elderly.
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