CD4 T cell defects in the aged: Causes, consequences and strategies to circumvent

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Aging leads to reduced immunity, especially adaptive responses. A key deficiency is the poor ability to mount robust antibody response. Although intrinsic alterations in B cells with age are in part responsible, impaired CD4 T cell help makes a major contribution to the poor antibody response. Other CD4 effector responses and memory generation are also impaired. We find delayed and reduced development of CD4 T follicular help (Tfh) cells in aged mice in response to influenza infection with reduction of long-lived plasma cells. When we examine CD4 subsets we also find a shift towards Th1 and cytotoxic CD4 (ThCTL) responses. We summarize strategies to circumvent the CD4 T cell defect in aged, including adjuvants and proinflammatory cytokines. We find that we can strongly enhance responses of aged naïve CD4 T cells by using Toll-like receptor (TLR) activated dendritic cells (DC) as APC in vivo and that this leads to improved germinal center B cells and IgG antibody responses. The enhanced response of aged naïve CD4 T cells is dependent on IL-6 produced by the DC.

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