Down but not out: Rare good surviving cells may boost immunity in aging

August 01, 2011

The decline in immune function with age is viewed as the most important factor contributing to older adults' increased infections and decreased response to vaccination. Aging brings about a selective decline in the number and function of T cells ‑ a type of white blood cell critical in the immune system's response to infection. But the few T cells that survive the longest may better protect against infections such as the flu, according to a study led by researchers from the University of Arizona College of Medicine ‑ Tucson. The researchers now are looking for ways to increase the number of these surviving T cells to improve protection against disease in older adults.

The study results are reported in the Aug. 1 Early Edition issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The article, "Non-random attrition of the naïve CD8+ T-cell pool with aging governed by TCR:pMHC interactions," is available at www.pnas.org/papbyrecent.shtml

"We have discovered that aging brings about selective attrition of those T cells that defend us against new infections that we have not encountered before. Not all T cells age the same and the ones that will survive the longest have special features that may allow them to best protect against infections such as flu," says study senior author Janko Nikolich-Žugich, MD, PhD, chairman of the Department of Immunobiology, co-director of the Arizona Center on Aging, and Elizabeth Bowman Professor in Medical Research at the UA College of Medicine, and a member of the UA BIO5 Institute. "We now know that there are a few good cells that can be targeted by vaccination to expand their numbers and achieve protection.

Finding ways to expand them is our next and final challenge, and our team at the Arizona Center on Aging should be able to achieve that in the next few years."
-end-
Researchers who contributed to the study include Dr. Nikolich-Žugich; lead author Brian Rudd, PhD, research associate, UA Department of Immunobiology and member, Arizona Center on Aging and UA BIO5 Institute; Vanessa Venturi, PhD, Computational Biology Unit, Centre for Vascular Research, University of New South Wales, Kensington, New South Wales 2052, Australia; Gang Li, PhD, assistant research scientist, UA Department of Immunobiology, and member, Arizona Center on Aging and UA BIO5 Institute; Partha Samadder, PhD, associate research scientist, UA Department of Immunobiology and member, Arizona Center on Aging and UA BIO5 Institute; James Ertelt, PhD, Department of Pediatrics, Center for Infectious Disease and Microbiology Translational Research, University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis, Minn.; Sing Sing Way, PhD, Department of Pediatrics, Center for Infectious Disease and Microbiology Translational Research, University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis, Minn.; and Miles P. Davenport, PhD, Complex Systems in Biology Group, Centre for Vascular Research, University of New South Wales, Kensington, New South Wales 2052, Australia.

About the Arizona Center on Aging

The mission of the Arizona Center on Aging (ACOA) at the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson is to promote long and healthy lives of older adults through coordinated programs in research, education, outreach and patient care. Established in 1980 as one of a network of Long Term Care Gerontology Centers authorized by the Older Americans Act, the ACOA was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents as a Center of Excellence at the Arizona Health Sciences Center in 1991. For more information, visit the center's website, www.aging.arizona.edu

About the UA College of Medicine Department of Immunobiology

The Department of Immunobiology, one of the five basic science departments at the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson, conducts cutting-edge research in the development, function and regulation of the immune system in health and disease. Areas of study include the biology of microorganisms and their interaction with the immune system over the lifespan of the individual. Department faculty seek to improve and regulate the function of the immune system to reduce and prevent illness and death from infectious and autoimmune diseases and cancer. The department educates medical and other health sciences students, physicians and scientists in all areas of immunobiology and microbiology. For more information, visit the website http://immunobiology.arizona.edu/index.html

University of Arizona Health Sciences

Related Aging Articles from Brightsurf:

Surprises in 'active' aging
Aging is a process that affects not only living beings.

Aging-US: 'From Causes of Aging to Death from COVID-19' by Mikhail V. Blagosklonny
Aging-US recently published ''From Causes of Aging to Death from COVID-19'' by Blagosklonny et al. which reported that COVID-19 is not deadly early in life, but mortality increases exponentially with age - which is the strongest predictor of mortality.

Understanding the effect of aging on the genome
EPFL scientists have measured the molecular footprint that aging leaves on various mouse and human tissues.

Muscle aging: Stronger for longer
With life expectancy increasing, age-related diseases are also on the rise, including sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass due to aging.

Aging memories may not be 'worse, 'just 'different'
A study from the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences in Arts & Sciences adds nuance to the idea that an aging memory is a poor one and finds a potential correlation between the way people process the boundaries of events and episodic memory.

A new biomarker for the aging brain
Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research (BDR) in Japan have identified changes in the aging brain related to blood circulation.

Scientists invented an aging vaccine
A new way to prevent autoimmune diseases associated with aging like atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease was described in the article.

The first roadmap for ovarian aging
Infertility likely stems from age-related decline of the ovaries, but the molecular mechanisms that lead to this decline have been unclear.

Researchers discover new cause of cell aging
New research from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering could be key to our understanding of how the aging process works.

Deep Aging Clocks: The emergence of AI-based biomarkers of aging and longevity
The advent of deep biomarkers of aging, longevity and mortality presents a range of non-obvious applications.

Read More: Aging News and Aging Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.