Journal of leukocyte biology

Early-onset age-related changes in dendritic cell subsets can impair antigen-specific T helper 1 (Th1) CD4 T cell priming.

PMID 24714553


Decline in CD4 T cell immune responses is associated with aging. Although a number of immunological defects have been identified in elderly mice (>18 months old), a key early-onset immune defect at middle age could be a driver or contributor to defective CD4 T cell responses. Our studies demonstrate that age-related alterations in DC subsets within the priming environment of middle-aged mice (12 months old) correlate with and can directly contribute to decreases in antigen-specific CD4 T cell Th1 differentiation, which measured by T-bet and IFN-γ expression, was decreased significantly in T cells following VSV infection or s.c. immunization with a protein antigen in the context of immune stimulation via OX40. The deficient Th1 phenotype, observed following protein antigen challenge, was found to be the result of an age-related decrease in an inflammatory DC subset (CD11b+ Gr-1/Ly6C+) in the dLN that corresponded with T cell dysfunction. In the virus model, we observed significant changes in two DC subsets: mDCs and pDCs. Thus, different, early age-related changes in the DC profile in the priming environment can significantly contribute to impaired Th1 differentiation, depending on the type of immunological challenge.