Journal of Clinical Immunology

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 247–257 | Cite as

Large Numbers of Dysfunctional CD8+ T Lymphocytes Bearing Receptors for a Single Dominant CMV Epitope in the Very Old

  • Qin Ouyang
  • Wolfgang M. Wagner
  • Anders Wikby
  • Steffen Walter
  • Geraldine Aubert
  • Anthony I. Dodi
  • Paul Travers
  • Graham Pawelec


Longitudinal studies suggest that a set of immune parameters including high percentages of peripheral CD8+, CD28, CD57+ T lymphocytes, low CD4 and B cell counts, and poor T cell proliferative responses to mitogens is associated with decreased remaining longevity in the free-living very elderly (>85 years). This combination of immune parameters was also significantly associated with an inverted CD4/CD8 ratio and cytomegalovirus seropositivity. Here, using tetramer technology, we show markedly increased numbers of CD8+ T cells bearing receptors for one single CMV epitope in the very elderly. Moreover, the fraction of these tetramer-reactive cells secreting interferon-γ after specific antigenic stimulation was significantly lower in the old than in the young, as was the percentage of CD28-positive cells in this population. Therefore, we conclude that marked expansions of CMV-specific CD8+ T cells have occurred and that the obsession of a large fraction of the entire CD8+ T cell subset with one single viral epitope may contribute to the increased incidence of infectious disease in the elderly by shrinking the T cell repertoire available for responses to other antigens.

Ageing T cell tetramer cytomegalovirus ELISPOT 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qin Ouyang
    • 1
  • Wolfgang M. Wagner
    • 1
  • Anders Wikby
    • 2
  • Steffen Walter
    • 3
  • Geraldine Aubert
    • 4
  • Anthony I. Dodi
    • 4
  • Paul Travers
    • 4
  • Graham Pawelec
    • 1
  1. 1.Tuebingen Ageing and Tumour Immunology Group, Section for Transplantation-Immunology and ImmunohematologyUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Natural Science and Biomedicine, School of Health SciencesJönköping UniversityJönköpingSweden
  3. 3.Department of ImmunologyUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  4. 4.Anthony Nolan Research InstituteRoyal Free and University College Medical SchoolLondonUnited Kingdom

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