bims-imseme Biomed News
on Immunosenescence and T cell metabolism
Issue of 2021‒02‒14
nineteen papers selected by
Pierpaolo Ginefra
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

  1. Nat Commun. 2021 02 10. 12(1): 907
      Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) are two distinct autoimmune diseases that manifest with chronic synovial inflammation. Here, we show that CD4+ T cells from patients with RA and PsA have increased expression of the pore-forming calcium channel component ORAI3, thereby increasing the activity of the arachidonic acid-regulated calcium-selective (ARC) channel and making T cells sensitive to arachidonic acid. A similar increase does not occur in T cells from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Increased ORAI3 transcription in RA and PsA T cells is caused by reduced IKAROS expression, a transcriptional repressor of the ORAI3 promoter. Stimulation of the ARC channel with arachidonic acid induces not only a calcium influx, but also the phosphorylation of components of the T cell receptor signaling cascade. In a human synovium chimeric mouse model, silencing ORAI3 expression in adoptively transferred T cells from patients with RA attenuates tissue inflammation, while adoptive transfer of T cells from healthy individuals with reduced expression of IKAROS induces synovitis. We propose that increased ARC activity due to reduced IKAROS expression makes T cells more responsive and contributes to chronic inflammation in RA and PsA.
  2. Nat Immunol. 2021 Feb 11.
      The anatomic location and immunologic characteristics of brain tumors result in strong lymphocyte suppression. Consequently, conventional immunotherapies targeting CD8 T cells are ineffective against brain tumors. Tumor cells escape immunosurveillance by various mechanisms and tumor cell metabolism can affect the metabolic states and functions of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. Here, we discovered that brain tumor cells had a particularly high demand for oxygen, which affected γδ T cell-mediated antitumor immune responses but not those of conventional T cells. Specifically, tumor hypoxia activated the γδ T cell protein kinase A pathway at a transcriptional level, resulting in repression of the activatory receptor NKG2D. Alleviating tumor hypoxia reinvigorated NKG2D expression and the antitumor function of γδ T cells. These results reveal a hypoxia-mediated mechanism through which brain tumors and γδ T cells interact and emphasize the importance of γδ T cells for antitumor immunity against brain tumors.
  3. Nat Immunol. 2021 Feb 11.
      During chronic infection and cancer, a self-renewing CD8+ T cell subset maintains long-term immunity and is critical to the effectiveness of immunotherapy. These stem-like CD8+ T cells diverge from other CD8+ subsets early after chronic viral infection. However, pathways guarding stem-like CD8+ T cells against terminal exhaustion remain unclear. Here, we show that the gene encoding transcriptional repressor BACH2 is transcriptionally and epigenetically active in stem-like CD8+ T cells but not terminally exhausted cells early after infection. BACH2 overexpression enforced stem-like cell fate, whereas BACH2 deficiency impaired stem-like CD8+ T cell differentiation. Single-cell transcriptomic and epigenomic approaches revealed that BACH2 established the transcriptional and epigenetic programs of stem-like CD8+ T cells. In addition, BACH2 suppressed the molecular program driving terminal exhaustion through transcriptional repression and epigenetic silencing. Thus, our study reveals a new pathway that enforces commitment to stem-like CD8+ lineage and prevents an alternative terminally exhausted cell fate.
  4. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Jan 29. pii: 515. [Epub ahead of print]13(3):
      T cell factor 1 (TCF1) is a transcription factor that has been highlighted to play a critical role in the promotion of T cell proliferation and maintenance of cell stemness in the embryonic and CD8+ T cell populations. The regulatory nature of TCF1 in CD8+ T cells is of great significance, especially within the context of T cell exhaustion, which is linked to the tumor and viral escape in pathological contexts. Indeed, inhibitory signals, such as programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) and cytotoxic-T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (CTLA-4), expressed on exhausted T lymphocytes (TEX), have become major therapeutic targets in immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) therapy. The significance of TCF1 in the sustenance of CTL-mediated immunity against pathogens and tumors, as well as its recently observed necessity for an effective anti-tumor immune response in ICB therapy, presents TCF1 as a potentially significant biomarker and/or therapeutic target for overcoming CD8+ T cell exhaustion and resistance to ICB therapy. In this review, we aim to outline the recent findings on the role of TCF1 in T cell development and discuss its implications in anti-tumor immunity.
    Keywords:  CD8; T cell factor 1; T lymphocyte; anti-tumor immunity; exhaustion; immune checkpoint blockade; reinvigoration
  5. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 640224
      Sustaining efficacious T cell-mediated antitumor immune responses in the tumor tissues is the key to the success of cancer immunotherapy. Current strategies leverage altering the signals T cells sense in the tumor microenvironment (TME). Checkpoint inhibitor-based approaches block inhibitory signals such as PD-1 whereas cytokine-based therapies increase the level of immune-stimulatory cytokines such as IL-2. Besides extrinsic signals, the genetic circuit within T cells also participates in determining the nature and trajectory of antitumor immune responses. Here, we showed that efficacy of the IL33-based tumor immunotherapy was greatly enhanced in mice with T cell-specific Eomes deficiency. Mechanistically, we demonstrated that Eomes deficient mice had diminished proportions of exhausted/dysfunctional CD8+ T cells but increased percentages of tissue resident and stem-like CD8+ T cells in the TME. In addition, the IFNγ+TCF1+ CD8+ T cell subset was markedly increased in the Eomes deficient mice. We further demonstrated that Eomes bound directly to the transcription regulatory regions of exhaustion and tissue residency genes. In contrast to its role in inhibiting T cell immune responses at the tumor site, Eomes promoted generation of central memory T cells in the peripheral lymphoid system and memory recall responses against tumor growth at a distal tissue site. Finally, we showed that Eomes deficiency in T cells also resulted in increased efficacy of PD-1-blockade tumor immunotherapy. In all, our study indicates that Eomes plays a critical role in restricting prolonged T cell-mediated antitumor immune responses in the TME whereas promoting adaptive immunity in peripheral lymphoid organs.
    Keywords:  T cell dysfunction; stem-like T cell; tissue residency; tumor immunotherapy; tumor microenvironment
  6. Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2021 Feb 12.
      Metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells generates a tumour microenvironment (TME) characterised by nutrient restriction, hypoxia, acidity and oxidative stress. While these conditions are unfavourable for infiltrating effector T cells, accumulating evidence suggests that regulatory T cells (Tregs) continue to exert their immune-suppressive functions within the TME. The advantages of Tregs within the TME stem from their metabolic profile. Tregs rely on oxidative phosphorylation for their functions, which can be fuelled by a variety of substrates. Even though Tregs are an attractive target to augment anti-tumour immune responses, it remains a challenge to specifically target intra-tumoral Tregs. We provide a comprehensive review of distinct mechanistic links and pathways involved in regulation of Treg metabolism under the prevailing conditions within the tumour. We also describe how these Tregs differ from the ones in the periphery, and from conventional T cells in the tumour. Targeting pathways responsible for adaptation of Tregs in the tumour microenvironment improves anti-tumour immunity in preclinical models. This may provide alternative therapies aiming at reducing immune suppression in the tumour.
    Keywords:  Acidity; Hypoxia; Metabolism; Nutrient depletion; Oxidative stress; Treg
  7. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2021 ;2021 6626484
      The aging process is associated with significant alterations in mitochondrial function. These changes in mitochondrial function are thought to involve increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which over time contribute to cell death, senescence, tissue degeneration, and impaired tissue repair. The mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) is likely to play a critical role in these processes, as increased ROS activates mPTP opening, which further increases ROS production. Injury and inflammation are also thought to increase mPTP opening, and chronic, low-grade inflammation is a hallmark of aging. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) can suppress the frequency and duration of mPTP opening; however, NAD+ levels are known to decline with age, further stimulating mPTP opening and increasing ROS release. Research on neurodegenerative diseases, particularly on Parkinson's disease (PD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD), has uncovered significant findings regarding mPTP openings and aging. Parkinson's disease is associated with a reduction in mitochondrial complex I activity and increased oxidative damage of DNA, both of which are linked to mPTP opening and subsequent ROS release. Similarly, AD is associated with increased mPTP openings, as evidenced by amyloid-beta (Aβ) interaction with the pore regulator cyclophilin D (CypD). Targeted therapies that can reduce the frequency and duration of mPTP opening may therefore have the potential to prevent age-related declines in cell and tissue function in various systems including the central nervous system.
  8. Int Immunol. 2021 Feb 09. pii: dxab006. [Epub ahead of print]
      SLC15A4 is an endolysosome-resident amino acid transporter that regulates innate immune responses, and is genetically associated with inflammatory diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and colitis. SLC15A4-deficient mice showed the amelioration of symptoms of these model diseases, and thus SLC15A4 is a promising therapeutic target of SLE and colitis. For developing SLC15A4-based therapeutic strategy, understanding human SLC15A4's property is essential. Here we characterized human SLC15A4 and demonstrated that human SLC15A4 possessed pH- and temperature-dependent activity for the transportation of dipeptide or tripeptide. Human SLC15A4 localized in LAMP1 + compartments and constitutively associated with Raptor and LAMTORs. We also investigated SLC15A4's role in inflammatory responses using human plasmacytoid dendritic cell line, CAL-1. Knock-down (KD) of SLC15A4 gene in CAL-1 (SLC15A4-KD CAL1) impaired TLR7/8 or TLR9-triggered type I interferon (IFN-I) production and mTORC1 activity, indicating that human SLC15A4 is critical for TLR7/8/9-mediated inflammatory signaling. We also examined SLC15A4's role in autophagy response since SLC15A4 loss caused the decrease of mTORC1 activity, which greatly influences on autophagy. We found that SLC15A4 was not required for autophagy induction, but was critical for autophagy sustainability. Notably, SLC15A4-KD CAL1 severely decreased mitochondria membrane potential in the starvation condition. Our findings revealed that SLC15A4 plays a key role in mitochondria integrity in human cells, which might benefit immune cells to fulfill their functions in inflammatory milieu.
  9. Nat Commun. 2021 Feb 12. 12(1): 1009
      Self-reactive CD8+ T cells are important mediators of progressive tissue damage in autoimmune diseases, but the molecular program underlying these cells' functional adaptation is unclear. Here we characterize the transcriptional and epigenetic landscape of self-reactive CD8+ T cells in a mouse model of protracted central nervous system (CNS) autoimmunity and compare it to populations of CNS-resident memory CD8+ T cells emerging from acute viral infection. We find that autoimmune CD8+ T cells persisting at sites of self-antigen exhibit characteristic transcriptional regulation together with distinct epigenetic remodeling. This self-reactive CD8+ T cell fate depends on the transcriptional regulation by the DNA-binding HMG-box protein TOX which remodels more than 400 genomic regions including loci such as Tcf7, which is central to stemness of CD8+ T cells. Continuous exposure to CNS self-antigen sustains TOX levels in self-reactive CD8+ T cells, whereas genetic ablation of TOX in CD8+ T cells results in shortened persistence of self-reactive CD8+ T cells in the inflamed CNS. Our study establishes and characterizes the genetic differentiation program enabling chronic T cell-driven immunopathology in CNS autoimmunity.
  10. J Cell Physiol. 2021 Feb 09.
      A recently proposed term "immunometabolism" points to the functional intracellular metabolic changes that occur within different immune cells. Recent findings suggest that immune responses can be determined by the metabolic status of immune cells and metabolic reprogramming is an important feature of immune cell activation. Metabolic reprogramming is also well known for cancer cells and has been suggested as a major sign of cancer progression. Metabolic reprogramming of immune cells is also seen in the tumor microenvironment. In the past decade, immunometabolism has progressively become an extraordinarily vibrant and productive area of study in immunology because of its importance for immunotherapy. Understanding the immunometabolic situation of T cells and other immune cells along with the metabolic behavior of cancer cells can help us design new therapeutic approaches against cancers. Here, we have the aim to review the cutting-edge findings on the immunometabolic situation in immune and tumor cells. We discuss new findings on signaling pathways during metabolic reprogramming, its regulation, and the participation of reactive oxygen species in these processes.
    Keywords:  T cells; immunometabolism; metabolic reprogramming; reactive oxygen species; tumor cells
  11. Nat Med. 2021 Feb 08.
      Genetically engineered T cell therapy can induce remarkable tumor responses in hematologic malignancies. However, it is not known if this type of therapy can be applied effectively to epithelial cancers, which account for 80-90% of human malignancies. We have conducted a first-in-human, phase 1 clinical trial of T cells engineered with a T cell receptor targeting HPV-16 E7 for the treatment of metastatic human papilloma virus-associated epithelial cancers (NCT02858310). The primary endpoint was maximum tolerated dose. Cell dose was not limited by toxicity with a maximum dose of 1 × 1011 engineered T cells administered. Tumor responses following treatment were evaluated using RECIST (Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors) guidelines. Robust tumor regression was observed with objective clinical responses in 6 of 12 patients, including 4 of 8 patients with anti-PD-1 refractory disease. Responses included extensive regression of bulky tumors and complete regression of most tumors in some patients. Genomic studies, which included intra-patient tumors with dichotomous treatment responses, revealed resistance mechanisms from defects in critical components of the antigen presentation and interferon response pathways. These findings demonstrate that engineered T cells can mediate regression of common carcinomas, and they reveal immune editing as a constraint on the curative potential of cellular therapy and possibly other immunotherapies in advanced epithelial cancer.
  12. Clin Immunol. 2021 Feb 04. pii: S1521-6616(21)00022-X. [Epub ahead of print] 108685
      Aging results in substantial changes in almost all cellular subpopulations within the immune system, including functional and phenotypic alterations. T lymphocytes, as the main representative population of cellular immunity, have been extensively studied in terms of modifications and adjustments during aging. Phenotypic alterations are attributed to three main mechanisms; a reduction of naïve T cell population with a shift to more differentiated forms, a subsequent oligoclonal expansion of naïve T cells characterized by repertoire restriction, and replicative insufficiency after repetitive activation. These changes and the subsequent phenotypic disorders are comprised in the term "immunosenescence". Similar changes seem to occur in chronic kidney disease, with T cells of young patients resembling those of healthy older individuals. A broad range of surface markers can be utilized to identify immunosenescent T cells. In this review, we will discuss the most important senescence markers and their potential connection with impaired renal function.
    Keywords:  Aging; Dialysis; Immunosenescence; T cells markers
  13. J Immunol. 2021 Feb 08. pii: ji2001143. [Epub ahead of print]
      Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an immune-mediated demyelinating disease of the CNS. We have previously demonstrated that CNS-specific CD8 T cells possess a disease-suppressive function in MS and variations of its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), including the highly clinically relevant relapsing-remitting EAE disease course. Regulatory CD8 T cell subsets have been identified in EAE and other autoimmune diseases, but studies vary in defining phenotypic properties of these cells. In relapsing-remitting EAE, PLP178-191 CD8 T cells suppress disease, whereas PLP139-151 CD8 T cells lack this function. In this study, we used this model to delineate the unique phenotypic properties of CNS-specific regulatory PLP178-191 CD8 T cells versus nonregulatory PLP139-151 or OVA323-339 CD8 T cells. Using multiparametric flow cytometric analyses of phenotypic marker expression, we identified a CXCR3+ subpopulation among activated regulatory CD8 T cells, relative to nonregulatory counterparts. This subset exhibited increased degranulation and IFN-γ and IL-10 coproduction. A similar subset was also identified in C57BL/6 mice within autoregulatory PLP178-191 CD8 T cells but not within nonregulatory OVA323-339 CD8 T cells. This disease-suppressing CD8 T cell subpopulation provides better insights into functional regulatory mechanisms, and targeted enhancement of this subset could represent a novel immunotherapeutic approach for MS.
  14. Nat Commun. 2021 02 11. 12(1): 951
      T cell rejuvenation by PD-1/PD-L1 blockade, despite emerging as a highly promising therapy for advanced cancers, is only beneficial for a minority of treated patients. There is evidence that a lack of efficient T cell activation may be responsible for the failure. Here, we demonstrate that IL-21 can be targeted to tumor-reactive T cells by fusion of IL-21 to anti-PD-1 antibody. To our surprise, the fusion protein PD-1Ab21 promotes the generation of memory stem T cells (TSCM) with enhanced cell proliferation. PD-1Ab21 treatment show potent antitumor effects in established tumor-bearing mice accompanied with an increased frequency of TSCM and robust expansion of tumor-specific CD8+ T cells with a memory phenotype, and is superior to a combination of PD-1 blockade and IL-21 infusion. Therefore, we have developed a potential strategy to improve the therapeutic effects of immune checkpoint blockade by simultaneously targeting cytokines to tumor-reactive T cells.
  15. NPJ Aging Mech Dis. 2021 Feb 08. 7(1): 4
      MicroRNAs play an important role in the regulation of T cell development, activation, and differentiation. One of the most abundant microRNAs in lymphocytes is miR-181a, which controls T cell receptor (TCR) activation thresholds in thymic selection as well as in peripheral T cell responses. We previously found that miR-181a levels decline in T cells in the elderly. In this study, we identified TCF1 as a transcriptional regulator of pri-miR-181a. A decline in TCF1 levels in old individuals accounted for the reduced miR-181a expression impairing TCR signaling. Inhibition of GSK3ß restored expression of miR-181a by inducing TCF1 in T cells from old adults. GSK3ß inhibition enhanced TCR signaling to increase downstream expression of activation markers and production of IL-2. The effect involved the upregulation of miR-181a and the inhibition of DUSP6 expression. Thus, inhibition of GSK3ß can restore responses of old T cells by inducing miR-181a expression through TCF1.
  16. Nat Cell Biol. 2021 Feb 11.
      Cell proliferation and differentiation require signalling pathways that enforce appropriate and timely gene expression. We find that Tor2, the catalytic subunit of the TORC1 complex in fission yeast, targets a conserved nuclear RNA elimination network, particularly the serine and proline-rich protein Pir1, to control gene expression through RNA decay and facultative heterochromatin assembly. Phosphorylation by Tor2 protects Pir1 from degradation by the ubiquitin-proteasome system involving the polyubiquitin Ubi4 stress-response protein and the Cul4-Ddb1 E3 ligase. This pathway suppresses widespread and untimely gene expression and is critical for sustaining cell proliferation. Moreover, we find that the dynamic nature of Tor2-mediated control of RNA elimination machinery defines gene expression patterns that coordinate fundamental chromosomal events during gametogenesis, such as meiotic double-strand-break formation and chromosome segregation. These findings have important implications for understanding how the TOR signalling pathway reprogrammes gene expression patterns and contributes to diseases such as cancer.
  17. Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. 2021 Jan 29. pii: S1359-6101(21)00006-X. [Epub ahead of print]
      Aging is a natural physiological process that features various and variable challenges, associated with loss of homeostasis within the organism, often leading to negative consequences for health. Cellular senescence occurs when cells exhaust the capacity to renew themselves and their tissue environment as the cell cycle comes to a halt. This process is influenced by genetics, metabolism and extrinsic factors. Immunosenescence, the aging of the immune system, is a result of the aging process, but can also in turn act as a secondary inducer of senescence within other tissues. This review aims to summarize the current state of knowledge regarding hallmarks of aging in relation to immunosenescence, with a focus on aging-related imbalances in the medullary environment, as well as the components of the innate and adaptive immune responses. Aging within the immune system alters its functionality, and has consequences for the person's ability to fight infections, as well as for susceptibility to chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. The senescence-associated secretory phenotype is described, as well as the involvement of this phenomenon in the paracrine induction of senescence in otherwise healthy cells. Inflammaging is discussed in detail, along with the comorbidities associated with this process. A knowledge of these processes is required in order to consider possible targets for the application of senotherapeutic agents - interventions with the potential to modulate the senescence process, thus prolonging the healthy lifespan of the immune system and minimizing the secondary effects of immunosenescence.
    Keywords:  Aging; Immune system; Immunosenescence; Inflammaging; Senescence; Senotherapeutics
  18. Cell Rep. 2021 Feb 09. pii: S2211-1247(21)00061-9. [Epub ahead of print]34(6): 108748
      Exhausted immune responses to chronic diseases represent a major challenge to global health. We study CD4+ T cells in a mouse model with regulatable antigen presentation. When the cells are driven through the effector phase and are then exposed to different levels of persistent antigen, they lose their T helper 1 (Th1) functions, upregulate exhaustion markers, resemble naturally anergic cells, and modulate their MAPK, mTORC1, and Ca2+/calcineurin signaling pathways with increasing dose and time. They also become unable to help B cells and, at the highest dose, undergo apoptosis. Transcriptomic analyses show the dynamic adjustment of gene expression and the accumulation of T cell receptor (TCR) signals over a period of weeks. Upon antigen removal, the cells recover their functionality while losing exhaustion and anergy markers. Our data suggest an adjustable response of CD4+ T cells to different levels of persisting antigen and contribute to a better understanding of chronic disease.
    Keywords:  CD4(+) T cells; T cell receptor; anergy; exhaustion; gene expression; microarray; tolerance; transcriptomics; tuning