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J Leukoc Biol. 2002 Jul;72(1):65-71.

Numerical and functional alterations of circulating gammadelta T lymphocytes in aged people and centenarians.

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  • 1Laboratory of Tumor Immunology, Immunology Center, INRCA Gerontological Research Dept., Via Birarelli 8, 60121 Ancona, Italy.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the peripheral representation, in vitro expansion, cytokine production, and cytotoxicity of gammadelta T lymphocytes from 104 healthy subjects ranging in age from 19 to 103 years. We demonstrated that the absolute number of circulating gammadelta(+) T cells was reduced significantly in old people and centenarians in comparison with young subjects as a consequence of the age-related decreased lymphocyte number. The decrease was a result of an age-dependent reduction of Vdelta2 T cells, whereas the absolute number of Vdelta1 T cells was unaffected by age. As a consequence, the Vdelta2/Vdelta1 ratio was inverted in old subjects and centenarians. A higher percentage of gammadelta(+) T cells producing tumor necrosis factor alpha was found in old donors and centenarians, whereas no age-related difference was observed in interferon -gamma production. After a 10-day in vitro expansion, a twofold lower expansion index of gammadelta T cells, and particularly of a Vdelta2, but not of a Vdelta1 subset, was found in old people and centenarians in comparison with young subjects. The cytotoxicity of sorted gammadelta T cells was preserved in old people and centenarians. The alteration of gammadelta T cells could contribute to the age-related derangement of T cell-mediated, adoptive responses and may represent a new characteristic of immunosenescence.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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