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Influence of age on functional memory T cell diversity

By Fengqin Fang, Wenqiang Cao, Weikang Zhu, Nora Lam, Lingjie Li, Sadhana Gaddam, Yong Wang, Chulwoo Kim, Simon Lambert, Huimin Zhang, Bin Hu, Donna L. Farber, Cornelia M. Weyand, Jorg J. Goronzy

Posted 30 May 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.05.29.446296

Memory T cells exhibit considerable diversity that determines their ability to be protective and their durability. Here, we examined whether changes in T cell heterogeneity contribute to the age-associated failure of immune memory. By screening for age-dependent T cell surface markers, we have identified CD4 and CD8 memory T cell subsets that are unrelated to previously defined subsets of central and effector memory cells. Memory T cells expressing the ecto-5'-nucleotidase CD73 constitute a functionally distinct subset of memory T cells that declines with age. They exhibit many features favorable for immune protection, including longevity and polyfunctionality. They have a low turnover, but are poised to display effector functions and to develop into cells resembling tissue-resident memory T cells (TRM). Upstream regulators of differential chromatin accessibility and transcriptomes include transcription factors that are characteristic for conferring these superior memory features as well as facilitating CD73 expression. CD73 is not just a surrogate marker of these regulatory networks but is directly involved in T cell survival and TRM differentiation Interventions preventing the decline of this T cell subset or increasing CD73 expression have the potential to improve immune memory in older adults.

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