bims-imseme Biomed News
on Immunosenescence and T cell metabolism
Issue of 2020‒10‒11
fourteen papers selected by
Pierpaolo Ginefra
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

  1. Nat Immunol. 2020 Oct 05.
      The metabolic challenges present in tumors attenuate the metabolic fitness and antitumor activity of tumor-infiltrating T lymphocytes (TILs). However, it remains unclear whether persistent metabolic insufficiency can imprint permanent T cell dysfunction. We found that TILs accumulated depolarized mitochondria as a result of decreased mitophagy activity and displayed functional, transcriptomic and epigenetic characteristics of terminally exhausted T cells. Mechanistically, reduced mitochondrial fitness in TILs was induced by the coordination of T cell receptor stimulation, microenvironmental stressors and PD-1 signaling. Enforced accumulation of depolarized mitochondria with pharmacological inhibitors induced epigenetic reprogramming toward terminal exhaustion, indicating that mitochondrial deregulation caused T cell exhaustion. Furthermore, supplementation with nicotinamide riboside enhanced T cell mitochondrial fitness and improved responsiveness to anti-PD-1 treatment. Together, our results reveal insights into how mitochondrial dynamics and quality orchestrate T cell antitumor responses and commitment to the exhaustion program.
  2. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Oct 05. pii: E7357. [Epub ahead of print]21(19):
      T cells follow a triphasic distinct pathway of activation, proliferation and differentiation before becoming functionally and phenotypically "exhausted" in settings of chronic infection, autoimmunity and in cancer. Exhausted T cells progressively lose canonical effector functions, exhibit altered transcriptional networks and epigenetic signatures and gain constitutive expression of a broad coinhibitory receptor suite. This review outlines recent advances in our understanding of exhausted T cell biology and examines cellular and molecular mechanisms by which a state of dysfunction or exhaustion is established, and mechanisms by which exhausted T cells may still contribute to pathogen or tumour control. Further, this review describes our understanding of exhausted T cell heterogeneity and outlines the mechanisms by which checkpoint blockade differentially engages exhausted T cell subsets to overcome exhaustion and recover T cell function.
    Keywords:  PD-1; T cell exhaustion; cancer; chronic viral infections; epigenetics; immunotherapy; inhibitory receptors
  3. Front Immunol. 2020 ;11 2005
      Regulatory T (Treg) cells expressing the FOXP3 transcription factor are presently under investigation by many teams globally as a cellular therapy to induce tolerance in transplantation. This is primarily due to their immunosuppressive and homeostatic functions. Depending on the type of allograft, Treg cells will need to infiltrate and function in metabolically diverse microenvironments. This means that any resident and circulating Treg cells need to differentially adapt to counter acute or chronic allograft rejection. However, the links between Treg cell metabolism and function are still not entirely delineated. Current data suggest that Treg cells and their effector counterparts have different metabolite dependencies and metabolic programs. These properties could be exploited to optimize intragraft Treg cell function. In this review, we discuss the current paradigms regarding Treg cell metabolism and outline critical intracellular axes that link metabolism and function. Finally, we discuss how this knowledge could be clinically translated for the benefit of transplant patients.
    Keywords:  Treg; cell therapy; hypoxia; mTOR; metabolic; metabolism; regulatory T cells; transplant
  4. Clin Transl Immunology. 2020 ;9(10): e1184
      Objectives: Aging is associated with altered immune function and chronic low-grade inflammation, referred to as immunosenescence. As breast cancer is an age-related disease, the impact of aging on tumor immune responses may have important consequences. However, effects of immunosenescence on breast tumor immune infiltration remain largely unknown.Methods: This exploratory study investigated a broad panel of immune/senescence markers in peripheral blood and in the tumor microenvironment of young, middle-aged and old patients diagnosed with early invasive luminal (hormone-sensitive, HER2-negative) breast cancer. In the old group, G8-scores were computed as a correlate for clinical frailty.
    Results: Significant age-related changes in plasma levels of several inflammatory mediators (IL-1α, IP-10, IL-8, MCP-1, CRP), immune checkpoint markers (Gal-9, sCD25, TIM-3, PD-L1), IGF-1 and circulating miRs (miR-18a, miR-19b, miR-20, miR-155, miR-195 and miR-326) were observed. Shifts were observed in distinct peripheral blood mononuclear cell populations, particularly naive CD8+ T-cells. At the tumor level, aging was associated with lower total lymphocytic infiltration, together with decreased abundance of several immune cell markers, especially CD8. The relative fractions of cell subsets in the immune infiltrate were also altered. Clinical frailty was associated with higher frequencies of exhausted/senescent (CD27-CD28- and/or CD57+) terminally differentiated CD8+ cells in the blood and with increased tumor infiltration by FOXP3+ cells.
    Conclusion: Aging and frailty are associated with profound changes of the blood and tumor immune profile in luminal breast cancer, pointing to a different interplay between tumor cells, immune cells and inflammatory mediators at higher age.
    Keywords:  ageing; biomarkers; breast cancer; clinical frailty; tumor immune infiltrate
  5. Front Immunol. 2020 ;11 2153
      New diagnoses of multiple myeloma (MM) tend to occur after the age of 60, by which time thymic output is severely reduced. As a consequence, lymphocyte recovery after lymphopenia-inducing anti-MM therapies relies on homeostatic proliferation of peripheral T cells rather than replenishment by new thymic emigrants. To assess lymphocyte recovery and phenotype in patients with newly diagnosed MM (NDMM) and relapsed/refractory MM (RRMM), we tracked CD4+ and CD8+ T cell populations at serial time points throughout treatment and compared them to age-matched healthy donors (HD). Anti-MM therapies and autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) caused a permanent reduction in the CD4:8 ratio, a decrease in naïve CD4+ T cells, and an increase in effector memory T cells and PD1-expressing CD4+ T cells. Transcriptional profiling highlighted that genes associated with fatty acid β-oxidation were upregulated in T cells in RRMM, suggesting increased reliance on mitochondrial respiration. High mitochondrial mass was seen in all T cell subsets in RRMM but with relatively suppressed reactive oxygen species and mitochondrial membrane potential, indicating mitochondrial dysfunction. These findings highlight that anti-MM and ASCT therapies perturb the composition of the T cell compartment and drive substantial metabolic remodeling, which may affect the fitness of T cells for immunotherapies. This is particularly pertinent to chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T therapy, which might be more efficacious if T cells were stored prior to ASCT rather than at relapse.
    Keywords:  T cell; aging; autologous stem cell transplant; metabolism; myeloma
  6. Cell Metab. 2020 Oct 06. pii: S1550-4131(20)30419-8. [Epub ahead of print]32(4): 507-509
      Although a crucial role for mitochondrial metabolism in controlling T regulatory (Treg) cell function has been recognized, its contribution during autoimmunity has not yet been fully elucidated. In this issue of Cell Metabolism, Alissafi and colleagues demonstrate that during autoimmunity, Treg cell functional alterations associate with mitochondrial oxidative stress, dysfunctional mitophagy, and enhanced DNA damage response, culminating with their cell death.
  7. Int J Obes (Lond). 2020 Oct 09.
      BACKGROUND: Obesity is associated with impaired primary and secondary immune responses to influenza infection, with T cells playing a critical role. T-cell function is highly influenced by the cellular metabolic state; however, it remains unknown how altered systemic metabolism in obesity alters T-cell metabolism and function to influence immune response. Our objective was to identify the altered cellular metabolic state of T cells from obese mice so that we may target T-cell metabolism to improve immune response to infection.METHODS: Mice were fed normal chow or high-fat diet for 18-19 weeks. Changes in T-cell populations were analyzed in both adipose tissue and spleens using flow cytometry. Splenic T cells were further analyzed for nutrient uptake and extracellular metabolic flux. As changes in T-cell mitochondrial oxidation were observed in obesity, obese mice were treated with metformin for 6 weeks and compared to lean control mice or obese mice undergoing weight loss through diet switch; immunity was measured by survival to influenza infection.
    RESULTS: We found changes in T-cell populations in adipose tissue of high-fat diet-induced obese mice, characterized by decreased proportions of Treg cells and increased proportions of CD8+ T cells. Activated CD4+ T cells from obese mice had increased glucose uptake and oxygen consumption rate (OCR), compared to T cells from lean controls, indicating increased mitochondrial oxidation of glucose. Treatment of isolated CD4+ T cells with metformin was found to inhibit OCR in vitro and alter the expression of several activation markers. Last, treatment of obese mice with metformin, but not weight loss, was able to improve survival to influenza in obesity.
    CONCLUSIONS: T cells from obese mice have an altered metabolic profile characterized by increased glucose oxidation, which can be targeted to improve survival against influenza infection.
  8. Bone. 2020 Oct 03. pii: S8756-3282(20)30459-2. [Epub ahead of print] 115679
      MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have recently come under scrutiny for their role in various age-related diseases. Similarly, cellular senescence has been linked to disease and aging. MicroRNAs and senescence likely play an intertwined role in driving these pathologic states. In this review, we present the connection between these two drivers of age-related disease concerning mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). First, we summarize key miRNAs that are differentially expressed in MSCs and other musculoskeletal lineage cells during senescence and aging. Additionally, we also reviewed miRNAs that are regulated via traditional senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) cytokines in MSC. Lastly, we summarize miRNAs that have been found to target components of the cell cycle arrest pathways inherently activated in senescence. This review attempts to highlight potential miRNA targets for regenerative medicine applications in age-related musculoskeletal disease.
    Keywords:  Aging; Mesenchymal Stem Cells; MicroRNAs; senescence
  9. Cell Immunol. 2020 Sep 14. pii: S0008-8749(20)30356-7. [Epub ahead of print]358 104196
      Leishmania mexicana can produce chronic infections leading to exhausted T cell phenotypes, mediated by PD-1/PD-L1. Little is known on mechanisms that induce these inhibitory molecules in chronic leishmaniasis. We analyzed factors that contribute to exhausted phenotypes in chronic L. mexicana infections of mice. Our results show that draining lymph node cells express enhanced levels of PD-1/PD-L1. T lymphocytes producing low cytokine levels were also found. L. mexicana infection of dendritic cells (DCs) produced elevated amounts of TNF and showed up-regulation of PD-L1 expression. We provide evidence that T cells of chronic L. mexicana infections in mice are functionally exhausted due to chronic TNF production, which leads to PD-L1 up-regulation in DCs. We conclude that TNF has a fundamental role in promoting T cell exhaustion during chronic L. mexicana infections, which contributes to the inability of T cells to proliferate and produce pro-inflammatory cytokines, thus favoring disease progression.
    Keywords:  Chronic infection; Exhausted phenotype; Leishmania mexicana; Mouse model; PD-1; PD-L1; TNF
  10. EMBO J. 2020 Oct 06. e101767
      Changes in cell metabolism and plasma membrane potential have been linked to shifts between tissue growth and differentiation, and to developmental patterning. How such changes mediate these effects is poorly understood. Here, we use the developing wing of Drosophila to investigate the interplay between cell metabolism and a key developmental regulator-the Hedgehog (Hh) signalling pathway. We show that reducing glycolysis both lowers steady-state levels of ATP and stabilizes Smoothened (Smo), the 7-pass transmembrane protein that transduces the Hh signal. As a result, the transcription factor Cubitus interruptus accumulates in its full-length, transcription activating form. We show that glycolysis is required to maintain the plasma membrane potential and that plasma membrane depolarization blocks cellular uptake of N-acylethanolamides-lipoprotein-borne Hh pathway inhibitors required for Smo destabilization. Similarly, pharmacological inhibition of glycolysis in mammalian cells induces ciliary translocation of Smo-a key step in pathway activation-in the absence of Hh. Thus, changes in cell metabolism alter Hh signalling through their effects on plasma membrane potential.
    Keywords:  endocannabinoids; glycolysis; hedgehog signalling; metabolism; plasma membrane potential
  11. Nat Commun. 2020 10 06. 11(1): 5005
      Hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) and HIF-2α are master transcription factors that regulate cellular responses to hypoxia, but the exact function in regulatory T (Treg) cells is controversial. Here, we show that Treg cell development is normal in mice with Foxp3-specific knockout (KO) of HIF-1α or HIF-2α. However, HIF-2α-KO (but not HIF-1α-KO) Treg cells are functionally defective in suppressing effector T cell-induced colitis and inhibiting airway hypersensitivity. HIF-2α-KO Treg cells have enhanced reprogramming into IL-17-secreting cells. We show crosstalk between HIF-2α and HIF-1α, and that HIF-2α represses HIF-1α expression. HIF-1α is upregulated in HIF-2α-KO Treg cells and further deletion of HIF-1α restores the inhibitory function of HIF-2α-KO Treg cells. Mice with Foxp3-conditional KO of HIF-2α are resistant to growth of MC38 colon adenocarcinoma and metastases of B16F10 melanoma. Together, these results indicate that targeting HIF-2α to destabilize Treg cells might be an approach for regulating the functional activity of Treg cells.
  12. J Immunother Cancer. 2020 Oct;pii: e000966. [Epub ahead of print]8(2):
      Cancer cells can evade immune surveillance in the body. However, immune checkpoint inhibitors can interrupt this evasion and enhance the antitumor activity of T cells. Other mechanisms for promoting antitumor T-cell function are the targeting of costimulatory molecules expressed on the surface of T cells, such as 4-1BB, OX40, inducible T-cell costimulator and glucocorticoid-induced tumor necrosis factor receptor. In addition, CD40 targets the modulation of the activation of antigen-presenting cells, which ultimately leads to T-cell activation. Agonists of these costimulatory molecules have demonstrated promising results in preclinical and early-phase trials and are now being tested in ongoing clinical trials. In addition, researchers are conducting trials of combinations of such immune modulators with checkpoint blockade, radiotherapy and cytotoxic chemotherapeutic drugs in patients with advanced tumors. This review gives a comprehensive picture of the current knowledge of T-cell agonists based on their use in recent and ongoing clinical trials.
    Keywords:  T-lymphocytes; costimulatory and Inhibitory T-cell receptors; immunologic; immunotherapy; receptors; review
  13. Cell Metab. 2020 Sep 29. pii: S1550-4131(20)30491-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      Emerging research has identified metabolic pathways that are crucial for the proper regulation of immune cells and how, when deranged, they can cause immune dysfunction and disease progression. However, due to technical limitations such insights have relied heavily on bulk measurements in immune cells, often activated in vitro. But with the emergence of single-cell applications, researchers can now estimate the metabolic state of individual immune cells in clinical samples. Here, we review these single-cell techniques and their ability to validate common principles in immunometabolism, while also revealing context-dependent metabolic heterogeneity within the immune cell compartment. We also discuss current gaps and limitations, as well as identify future opportunities to move the field forward toward the development of therapeutic targets and improved diagnostic capabilities.
    Keywords:  ▪▪▪
  14. Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2020 Oct 06. 36 265-289
      Maintaining mitochondrial health is essential for the survival and function of eukaryotic organisms. Misfunctioning mitochondria activate stress-responsive pathways to restore mitochondrial network homeostasis, remove damaged or toxic proteins, and eliminate damaged organelles via selective autophagy of mitochondria, a process termed mitophagy. Failure of these quality control pathways is implicated in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Impairment of mitochondrial quality control has been demonstrated to activate innate immune pathways, including inflammasome-mediated signaling and the antiviral cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS)/stimulator of interferon genes (STING)-regulated interferon response. Immune system malfunction is a common hallmark in many neurodegenerative diseases; however, whether inflammation suppresses or exacerbates disease pathology is still unclear. The goal of this review is to provide a historical overview of the field, describe mechanisms of mitochondrial quality control, and highlight recent advances on the emerging role of mitochondria in innate immunity and inflammation.
    Keywords:  immunity; inflammation; mitochondria; mitophagy; neurodegeneration