The impact of intrinsic aging upon human peripheral blood T cell subsets remains incompletely quantified and understood. This impact must be distinguished from the influence of latent persistent microorganisms, particularly CMV, which has been associated with age-related changes in the T cell pool. In a cross-sectional cohort of 152 CMV-negative individuals, aged 21-101 y, we found that aging correlated strictly to an absolute loss of naive CD8, but not CD4, T cells but, contrary to many reports, did not lead to an increase in memory T cell numbers. The loss of naive CD8 T cells was not altered by CMV in 239 subjects (range 21-96 y), but the decline in CD4+ naive cells showed significance in CMV+ individuals. These individuals also exhibited an absolute increase in the effector/effector memory CD4+ and CD8+ cells with age. That increase was seen mainly, if not exclusively, in older subjects with elevated anti-CMVAb titers, suggesting that efficacy of viral control over time may determine the magnitude of CMV impact upon T cell memory, and perhaps upon immune defense. These findings provide important new insights into the age-related changes in the peripheral blood pool of older adults, demonstrating that aging and CMV exert both distinct and joint influence upon blood T cell homeostasis in humans.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy