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Cell Immunol. 1997 Dec 15;182(2):79-88.

Reductions in the activation of ERK and JNK are associated with decreased IL-2 production in T cells from elderly humans stimulated by the TCR/CD3 complex and costimulatory signals.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry, William H. Davis Medical Research Center, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210-1228, USA.


T cells from elderly humans often display impaired IL-2 production, but the mechanisms are unknown. Because the activities of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) and c-Jun NH2-terminal kinases (JNK) are important for IL-2 production, the current study evaluated if aberrancies in the expression and activation of ERK2 or JNK might underlie decreased IL-2 production by human T cells during aging. The present results show that diminished ERK2 and JNK catalytic activities were commonly detected in T cells from elderly humans stimulated with anti-CD3 mAb OKT3 plus PMA. These reductions did not represent temporal shifts in activation or altered expression of ERK2 or JNK. In addition, the reductions of ERK2 activation in stimulated T cells from elderly individuals were accompanied by decreased Raf-1 kinase activation and could be observed without coexisting impairments in JNK activation. Stimulation of ERK2 activation in elderly T cells correlated with IL-2 production and decreased ERK2 activation was consistently associated with reduced IL-2 production. Although the age-related decreases in JNK activation were accompanied by reduced IL-2 production, substantial impairments of JNK activation were observed with diminished ERK2 activation. Moreover, anti-CD3/PMA-stimulated T cells from elderly individuals that displayed normal JNK activation and impaired ERK2 activation continued to demonstrate reduced IL-2 production. These findings show that impairments in the activation of ERK2 and JNK can accompany decreased IL-2 production by T cells from elderly humans and further suggest that aberrancies in TCR/CD3-dependent activation of the Raf-1/MEK/ERK2 cascade may be rate-limiting for the full induction of IL-2.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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