In advanced age, decreased CD8(+) cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses to novel pathogens and cancer is paralleled by a decline in the number and function of naïve CTL precursors (CTLp). Although the age-related fall in CD8(+) T-cell numbers is well established, neither the underlying mechanisms nor the extent of variation for different epitope specificities have been defined. Furthermore, naïve CD8(+) T cells expressing high levels of CD44 accumulate with age, but it is unknown whether this accumulation reflects their preferential survival or an age-dependent driver of CD8(+) T-cell proliferation. Here, we track the number and phenotype of four influenza A virus (IAV)-specific CTLp populations in naïve C57BL/6 (B6) mice during aging, and compare T-cell receptor (TCR) clonal diversity for the CD44hi and CD44lo subsets of one such population. We show differential onset of decline for several IAV-specific CD8(+) T-cell populations with advanced age that parallel age-associated changes in the B6 immunodominance hierarchy, suggestive of distinct impacts of aging on different epitope-specific populations. Despite finding no evidence of clonal expansions in an aged, epitope-specific TCR repertoire, nonrandom alterations in TCR usage were observed, along with elevated CD5 and CD8 coreceptor expression. Collectively, these data demonstrate that naïve CD8(+) T cells expressing markers of heightened self-recognition are selectively retained, but not clonally expanded, during aging.
Quinn KM, Zaloumis SG, Cukalac T, Kan WT, Sng XY, Mirams M, Watson KA, McCaw JM, Doherty PC, Thomas PG, Handel A, La Gruta NL. (2016). Heightened self-reactivity associated with selective survival, but not expansion, of naïve virus-specific CD8+ T cells in aged mice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(5)