• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Logo of jcinvestThe Journal of Clinical InvestigationCurrent IssueArchiveSubscriptionAbout the Journal
J Clin Invest. Apr 1981; 67(4): 937–942.
PMCID: PMC370650

Immunological studies of aging. Decreased production of and response to T cell growth factor by lymphocytes from aged humans.


Human lymphocytes from elderly and young donors were cultured with phytohemagglutinin (PHA) or concanavalin A. Cultures from old donors produced less T cell growth factor (TCGF) and incorporated less tritiated thymidine (3H-Tdr) than did similar cultures from young donors in the presence of either mitogen. Furthermore, the response of lymphocytes from elderly donors to TCGF was impaired. Thus, PHA-activated T cells from aged donors showed no increase tritiated thymidine incorporation when incubated with exogenous human TCGF. In contrast, addition of exogenous human TCGF to PHA-activated peripheral blood leukocytes from younger individuals increased tritiated thymidine incorporation by 30-50%. The impaired response to TCGF was associated with decreased binding of TCGF by PHA-activated cells from old donors. TCGF production or responsiveness was not associated with the presence of "suppressor" activity in elderly T cell preparations. These studies suggest a possible molecular mechanism for the impaired proliferative response of elderly human T cells. These data lend support to the hypothesis that defects in the capacity to either produce or respond to TCGF may be a fundamental cause of immune deficiency.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (936K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Weksler ME, Hütteroth TH. Impaired lymphocyte function in aged humans. J Clin Invest. 1974 Jan;53(1):99–104. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Gupta S, Good RA. Subpopulations of human T lymphocytes. X. Alterations in T, B, third population cells, and T cells with receptors for immunoglobulin M (Tmu) or G (Tgamma) in aging humans. J Immunol. 1979 Apr;122(4):1214–1219. [PubMed]
  • Inkeles B, Innes JB, Kuntz MM, Kadish AS, Weksler ME. Immunological studies of Aging. III. Cytokinetic basis for the impaired response of lymphocytes from aged humans to plant lectins. J Exp Med. 1977 May 1;145(5):1176–1187. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Gillis S, Baker PE, Ruscetti FW, Smith KA. Long-term culture of human antigen-specific cytotoxic T-cell lines. J Exp Med. 1978 Oct 1;148(4):1093–1098. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Smith KA, Gillis S, Baker PE, McKenzie D, Ruscetti FW. T-cell growth factor-mediated T-cell proliferation. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1979;332:423–432. [PubMed]
  • Bonnard GD, Yasaka K, Jacobson D. Ligand-activated T cell growth factor-induced proliferation: absorption of T cell growth factor by activated T cells. J Immunol. 1979 Dec;123(6):2704–2708. [PubMed]
  • Gillis S, Smith KA. Long term culture of tumour-specific cytotoxic T cells. Nature. 1977 Jul 14;268(5616):154–156. [PubMed]
  • Watson J, Gillis S, Marbrook J, Mochizuki D, Smith KA. Biochemical and biological characterization of lymphocyte regulatory molecules. I. Purification of a class of murine lymphokines. J Exp Med. 1979 Oct 1;150(4):849–861. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Gillis S, Smith KA, Watson J. Biochemical characterization of lymphocyte regulatory molecules. II. Purification of a class of rat and human lymphokines. J Immunol. 1980 Apr;124(4):1954–1962. [PubMed]
  • Gillis S, Ferm MM, Ou W, Smith KA. T cell growth factor: parameters of production and a quantitative microassay for activity. J Immunol. 1978 Jun;120(6):2027–2032. [PubMed]
  • Coutinho A, Larsson EL, Grönvik KO, Andersson J. Studies on T lymphocyte activation II. The target cells for concanavalin A-induced growth factors. Eur J Immunol. 1979 Aug;9(8):587–592. [PubMed]
  • Smith KA, Baker PE, Gillis S, Ruscetti FW. Functional and molecular characteristics of T-cell growth factor. Mol Immunol. 1980 May;17(5):579–589. [PubMed]
  • Callard RE, Basten A. Immune function in aged mice. I. T-cell responsiveness using phytohaemagglutinin as a functional probe. Cell Immunol. 1977 Jun 1;31(1):13–25. [PubMed]
  • Hefton JM, Darlington GJ, Casazza BA, Weksler ME. Immunologic studies of aging. V. Impaired proliferation of PHA responsive human lymphocytes in culture. J Immunol. 1980 Sep;125(3):1007–1010. [PubMed]
  • Heidrick ML, Makinodan T. Presence of impairment of humoral immunity in nonadherent spleen cells of old mice. J Immunol. 1973 Nov;111(5):1502–1506. [PubMed]

Articles from The Journal of Clinical Investigation are provided here courtesy of American Society for Clinical Investigation


Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • Compound
    PubChem Compound links
  • MedGen
    Related information in MedGen
  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles
  • Substance
    PubChem Substance links

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...