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Exp Gerontol. 2004 Aug;39(8):1233-43.

Different contribution of EBV and CMV infections in very long-term carriers to age-related alterations of CD8+ T cells.

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Department of Internal Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Parma, 43100 Parma, Italy.


Aging is accompanied by a complex dynamics of CD8+ T cell subsets whose origin is unclear. To evaluate the impact of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) chronic infections on CD8+ T cells in far advanced age, we studied CD8+ T cells frequencies and phenotype in nonagenarians and centenarians by HLA-A*0201- and HLA-B*0702-tetramers incorporating epitopes specific of both viruses along with viral replication. The results demonstrate that EBV and CMV infections induce quantitatively and qualitatively different CD8+ T-cell responses in advanced aging. The frequency and absolute number of CD8+ T cells specific for one lytic and two latent EBV-epitopes, were relatively low and mostly included within CD8+ CD28+ cells. By contrast, CMV infection was characterized by highly variable numbers of CD8+ T cells specific for two differently restricted CMV-epitopes that, in some subjects, were strikingly expanded. Moreover, the great majority of anti-CMV CD8+ T cells did not bear CD28 antigen. Notwithstanding the expansion of CMV-specific CD8+ lymphocytes, CMV-DNA detection in blood samples was invariably negative. Altogether, we suggest that CMV, but not EBV, can sustain chronic activation of the HLA-class I restricted effector arm in elderly that might have detrimental effects on age-associated diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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