Increased T-bet is associated with senescence of influenza virus-specific CD8 T cells in aged humans.
Aged individuals have increased morbidity and mortality following influenza and other viral infections, despite previous exposure or vaccination. Mouse and human studies suggest increased senescence and/or exhaustion of influenza virus-specific CD8 T cells with advanced age. However, neither the relationship between senescence and exhaustion nor the underlying transcriptional pathways leading to decreased function of influenza virus-specific cellular immunity in elderly humans are well-defined. Here, we demonstrate that increased percentages of CD8 T cells from aged individuals express CD57 and KLRG1, along with PD-1 and other inhibitory receptors, markers of senescence, or exhaustion, respectively. Expression of T-box transcription factors, T-bet and Eomes, were also increased in CD8 T cells from aged subjects and correlated closely with expression of CD57 and KLRG1. Influenza virus-specific CD8 T cells from aged individuals exhibited decreased functionality with corresponding increases in CD57, KLRG1, and T-bet, a molecular regulator of terminal differentiation. However, in contrast to total CD8 T cells, influenza virus-specific CD8 T cells had altered expression of inhibitory receptors, including lower PD-1, in aged compared with young subjects. Thus, our data suggest a prominent role for senescence and/or terminal differentiation for influenza virus-specific CD8 T cells in elderly subjects.
Dolfi, DV; Mansfield, KD; Polley, AM; Doyle, SA; Freeman, GJ; Pircher, H; Schmader, KE; Wherry, EJ
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