bims-imseme Biomed News
on Immunosenescence and T cell metabolism
Issue of 2021‒11‒14
twenty-five papers selected by
Pierpaolo Ginefra
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

  1. Cell Rep. 2021 Nov 09. pii: S2211-1247(21)01460-1. [Epub ahead of print]37(6): 109981
      Memory T cells exhibit considerable diversity that determines their ability to be protective. Here, we examine whether changes in T cell heterogeneity contribute to the age-associated failure of immune memory. By screening for age-dependent T cell-surface markers, we identify CD4 and CD8 memory T cell subsets that are unrelated to previously defined subsets of central and effector memory cells. Memory T cells expressing the ecto-5'-nucleotidase CD73 constitute a functionally distinct subset of memory T cells that declines with age. They resemble long-lived, polyfunctional memory cells but are also poised to display effector functions and to develop into cells resembling tissue-resident memory T cells (TRMs). Upstream regulators of differential chromatin accessibility and transcriptomes include transcription factors that facilitate CD73 expression and regulate TRM differentiation. CD73 is not just a surrogate marker of these regulatory networks but is directly involved in T cell survival.
    Keywords:  CD73; RUNX; T cell differentiation; adenosine; aging; heterogeneity; immunosenescence; memory T cell; tissue-residing memory T cells
  2. J Vis Exp. 2021 Oct 19.
      During activation, the metabolism of T cells adapts to changes that impact their fate. An increase in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation is indispensable for T cell activation, and the survival of memory T cells is dependent on mitochondrial remodeling. Consequently, this affects the long-term clinical outcome of cancer immunotherapies. Changes in T cell quality are often studied by flow cytometry using well-known surface markers and not directly by their metabolic state. This is an optimized protocol for measuring real-time mitochondrial respiration of primary human T cells using an Extracellular Flux Analyzer and the cytokines IL-2 and IL-15, which differently affect T cell metabolism. It is shown that the metabolic state of T cells can clearly be distinguished by measuring the oxygen consumption when inhibiting key complexes in the metabolic pathway and that the accuracy of these measurements is highly dependent on optimal inhibitor concentration and inhibitor injection strategy. This standardized protocol will help implement mitochondrial respiration as a standard for T cell fitness in monitoring and studying cancer immunotherapies.
  3. FASEB J. 2021 Dec;35(12): e21991
      Mitochondria are intimately connected to cell fate and function. Here, we review how these intracellular organelles participate in the induction and maintenance of the senescent state. In particular, we discuss how alterations in mitochondrial metabolism, quality control and dynamics are all involved in various aspects of cellular senescence. Together, these observations suggest that mitochondria are active participants and are mechanistically linked to the unique biology of senescence. We further describe how these insights can be potentially exploited for therapeutic benefit.
    Keywords:  aging; metabolism; mitophagy; reactive oxygen species; senolytic
  4. Metabolism. 2021 Oct 28. pii: S0026-0495(21)00223-7. [Epub ahead of print]126 154923
      More than a century after discovering NAD+, information is still evolving on the role of this molecule in health and diseases. The biological functions of NAD+ and NAD+ precursors encompass pathways in cellular energetics, inflammation, metabolism, and cell survival. Several metabolic and neurological diseases exhibit reduced tissue NAD+ levels. Significantly reduced levels of NAD+ are also associated with aging, and enhancing NAD+ levels improved healthspan and lifespan in animal models. Recent studies suggest a causal link between senescence, age-associated reduction in tissue NAD+ and enzymatic degradation of NAD+. Furthermore, the discovery of transporters and receptors involved in NAD+ precursor (nicotinic acid, or niacin, nicotinamide, and nicotinamide riboside) metabolism allowed for a better understanding of their role in cellular homeostasis including signaling functions that are independent of their functions in redox reactions. We also review studies that demonstrate that the functional effect of niacin is partially due to the activation of its cell surface receptor, GPR109a. Based on the recent progress in understanding the mechanism and function of NAD+ and NAD+ precursors in cell metabolism, new strategies are evolving to exploit these molecules' pharmacological potential in the maintenance of metabolic balance.
    Keywords:  NAD; Niacin; Niacin receptor; Nicotinamide adenine mononucleotide; Nicotinamide riboside
  5. Immunity. 2021 Nov 03. pii: S1074-7613(21)00448-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      Antigenic stimulation promotes T cell metabolic reprogramming to meet increased biosynthetic, bioenergetic, and signaling demands. We show that the one-carbon (1C) metabolism enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase 2 (MTHFD2) regulates de novo purine synthesis and signaling in activated T cells to promote proliferation and inflammatory cytokine production. In pathogenic T helper-17 (Th17) cells, MTHFD2 prevented aberrant upregulation of the transcription factor FoxP3 along with inappropriate gain of suppressive capacity. MTHFD2 deficiency also promoted regulatory T (Treg) cell differentiation. Mechanistically, MTHFD2 inhibition led to depletion of purine pools, accumulation of purine biosynthetic intermediates, and decreased nutrient sensor mTORC1 signaling. MTHFD2 was also critical to regulate DNA and histone methylation in Th17 cells. Importantly, MTHFD2 deficiency reduced disease severity in multiple in vivo inflammatory disease models. MTHFD2 is thus a metabolic checkpoint to integrate purine metabolism with pathogenic effector cell signaling and is a potential therapeutic target within 1C metabolism pathways.
    Keywords:  CD4(+) T cells; CRISPR screen; MTHFD2; T cell differentiation; inflammation; mTORC1; metabolic checkpoint; methylation; one carbon metabolism; purine metabolism
  6. Cell Rep. 2021 Nov 09. pii: S2211-1247(21)01470-4. [Epub ahead of print]37(6): 109991
      The existence of a dysfunctional CD8+ T cell state in cancer is well established. However, the degree to which CD8+ T cell fates are influenced by the context in which they encounter cognate tumor antigen is less clear. We previously demonstrated that CD8+ T cells reactive to a model leukemia antigen were deleted by antigen cross-presenting type 1 conventional dendritic cells (cDC1s). Here, through a study of T cell receptor (TCR) transgenic CD8+ T cells (TCRTg101) reactive to a native C1498 leukemia cell antigen, we uncover a different mode of T cell tolerance in which TCRTg101 undergo progressive expansion and differentiation into an exhausted state. Antigen encounter by TCRTg101 requires leukemia cell major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-I expression and is independent of DCs, implying that leukemia cells directly mediate the exhausted TCRTg101 phenotype. Collectively, our data reveal that leukemia antigens are presented to CD8+ T cells via discrete pathways, leading to distinct tolerant states.
  7. Trends Immunol. 2021 Nov 09. pii: S1471-4906(21)00236-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      With continuous T cell receptor (TCR) signaling, T cells can attenuate subsequent antigen responses through adaptive tolerance, thus averting autoimmunity, but potentially also providing refuge to developing cancers. Elliot and coworkers add to our understanding of adaptation via immune checkpoints by exploiting accelerated in vivo adaptive tolerance in the face of strong TCR signaling.
  8. Cell Rep. 2021 Nov 09. pii: S2211-1247(21)01394-2. [Epub ahead of print]37(6): 109921
      Regulatory T (Treg) cells are critical for immunological tolerance and immune homeostasis. Treg cells strongly rely on mitochondrial metabolism and show a lower level of glycolysis. However, little is known about the role of lipid metabolism in the regulation of Treg cell homeostasis. Some members of the ACSL family of acyl-coenzyme A (CoA) synthases are expressed in T cells, but their function remains unclear. A combination of RNA-sequencing and proteome analyses shows that Acsbg1, a member of ACSL, is selectively expressed in Treg cells. We show that the genetic deletion of Acsbg1 not only causes mitochondrial dysfunction, but it also dampens other metabolic pathways. The extrinsic supplementation of Acsbg1-deficient Treg cells with oleoyl-CoA restores the phenotype of the Treg metabolic signature. Furthermore, this pathway in ST2+ effector Treg cells enhances immunosuppressive capacity in airway inflammation. Thus, Acsbg1 serves as a metabolic checkpoint governing Treg cell homeostasis and the resolution of lung inflammation.
    Keywords:  Acsbg1; IL-33; IL-5; Treg cells; airway inflammation; fatty acid metabolism; mitochondrial fitness; pathogenic Th2 cells
  9. Aging Cell. 2021 Nov 09. e13513
      Oxidative stress caused by excess reactive oxygen species (ROS) accelerates telomere erosion and mitochondrial injury, leading to impaired cellular functions and cell death. Whether oxidative stress-mediated telomere erosion induces mitochondrial injury, or vice versa, in human T cells-the major effectors of host adaptive immunity against infection and malignancy-is poorly understood due to the pleiotropic effects of ROS. Here we employed a novel chemoptogenetic tool that selectively produces a single oxygen (1 O2 ) only at telomeres or mitochondria in Jurkat T cells. We found that targeted 1 O2 production at telomeres triggered not only telomeric DNA damage but also mitochondrial dysfunction, resulting in T cell apoptotic death. Conversely, targeted 1 O2 formation at mitochondria induced not only mitochondrial injury but also telomeric DNA damage, leading to cellular crisis and apoptosis. Targeted oxidative stress at either telomeres or mitochondria increased ROS production, whereas blocking ROS formation during oxidative stress reversed the telomeric injury, mitochondrial dysfunction, and cellular apoptosis. Notably, the X-ray repair cross-complementing protein 1 (XRCC1) in the base excision repair (BER) pathway and multiple mitochondrial proteins in other cellular pathways were dysregulated by the targeted oxidative stress. By confining singlet 1 O2 formation to a single organelle, this study suggests that oxidative stress induces dual injury in T cells via crosstalk between telomeres and mitochondria. Further identification of these oxidation pathways may offer a novel approach to preserve mitochondrial functions, protect telomere integrity, and maintain T cell survival, which can be exploited to combat various immune aging-associated diseases.
    Keywords:  DNA damage and repair; T cell senescence; mitochondria; oxidative stress; telomeres
  10. Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 09. 12(1): 6463
      Diet composition, calories, and fasting times contribute to the maintenance of health. However, the impact of very low-calorie intake (VLCI) achieved with either standard laboratory chow (SD) or a plant-based fasting mimicking diet (FMD) is not fully understood. Here, using middle-aged male mice we show that 5 months of short 4:10 VLCI cycles lead to decreases in both fat and lean mass, accompanied by improved physical performance and glucoregulation, and greater metabolic flexibility independent of diet composition. A long-lasting metabolomic reprograming in serum and liver is observed in mice on VLCI cycles with SD, but not FMD. Further, when challenged with an obesogenic diet, cycles of VLCI do not prevent diet-induced obesity nor do they elicit a long-lasting metabolic memory, despite achieving modest metabolic flexibility. Our results highlight the importance of diet composition in mediating the metabolic benefits of short cycles of VLCI.
  11. Trends Genet. 2020 Oct 21. pii: S0168-9525(20)30251-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      Hematopoiesis is the process by which both fetal and adult organisms derive the full repertoire of blood cells from a single multipotent progenitor cell type, the hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Correct enactment of this process relies on a synergistic interplay between genetically encoded differentiation programs and a host of cell-intrinsic and cell-extrinsic factors. These include the influence of the HSC niche microenvironment, action of specific transcription factors, and alterations in intracellular metabolic state. The consolidation of these inputs with the genetically encoded program into a coherent differentiation program for each lineage is thought to rely on epigenetic modifiers. Recent work has delineated the precise contributions of different classes of epigenetic modifiers to HSC self-renewal as well as lineage specification and differentiation into various cell types. Here, we bring together what is currently known about chromatin status and the development of cells in the hematopoietic system under normal and abnormal conditions.
    Keywords:  cell fate determination; chromatin dynamics; epigenetics; hematopoiesis
  12. Front Mol Neurosci. 2021 ;14 767219
      Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have emerged in the last decade as critical cell-to-cell communication devices used to carry nucleic acids and proteins between cells. EV cargo includes plasma membrane and endosomal proteins, but EVs also contain material from other cellular compartments, including mitochondria. Within cells, mitochondria are responsible for a large range of metabolic reactions, but they can also produce damaging levels of reactive oxygen species and induce inflammation when damaged. Consistent with this, recent evidence suggests that EV-mediated transfer of mitochondrial content alters metabolic and inflammatory responses of recipient cells. As EV mitochondrial content is also altered in some pathologies, this could have important implications for their diagnosis and treatment. In this review, we will discuss the nature and roles of mitochondrial EVs, with a special emphasis on the nervous system.
    Keywords:  extracellular vesicle; inflammation; metabolism; mitochondria; mitochondrial quality control
  13. Cell Rep. 2021 Nov 09. pii: S2211-1247(21)01471-6. [Epub ahead of print]37(6): 109992
      To elucidate mechanisms by which T cells eliminate leukemia, we study donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI), an established immunotherapy for relapsed leukemia. We model T cell dynamics by integrating longitudinal, multimodal data from 94,517 bone marrow-derived single T cell transcriptomes in addition to chromatin accessibility and single T cell receptor sequencing from patients undergoing DLI. We find that responsive tumors are defined by enrichment of late-differentiated T cells before DLI and rapid, durable expansion of early differentiated T cells after treatment, highly similar to "terminal" and "precursor" exhausted subsets, respectively. Resistance, in contrast, is defined by heterogeneous T cell dysfunction. Surprisingly, early differentiated T cells in responders mainly originate from pre-existing and novel clonotypes recruited to the leukemic microenvironment, rather than the infusion. Our work provides a paradigm for analyzing longitudinal single-cell profiling of scenarios beyond adoptive cell therapy and introduces Symphony, a Bayesian approach to infer regulatory circuitry underlying T cell subsets, with broad relevance to exhaustion antagonists across cancers.
    Keywords:  ATAC-seq; allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant; donor lymphocyte infusion; exhaustion; gene regulatory networks; immunotherapy; leukemia; probabilistic models; scRNA-seq; statistical machine learning
  14. Immunol Rev. 2021 Nov 08.
      The thymus is required for the development of both adaptive and innate-like T cell subsets. There is keen interest in manipulating thymic function for therapeutic purposes in circumstances of autoimmunity, immunodeficiency, and for purposes of immunotherapy. Within the thymus, thymic epithelial cells play essential roles in directing T cell development. Several transcription factors are known to be essential for thymic epithelial cell development and function, and a few transcription factors have been studied in considerable detail. However, the role of many other transcription factors is less well understood. Further, it is likely that roles exist for other transcription factors not yet known to be important in thymic epithelial cells. Recent progress in understanding of thymic epithelial cell heterogeneity has provided some new insight into transcriptional requirements in subtypes of thymic epithelial cells. However, it is unknown whether progenitors of thymic epithelial cells exist in the adult thymus, and consequently, developmental relationships linking putative precursors with differentiated cell types are poorly understood. While we do not presently possess a clear understanding of stage-specific requirements for transcription factors in thymic epithelial cells, new single-cell transcriptomic and epigenomic technologies should enable rapid progress in this field. Here, we review our current knowledge of transcription factors involved in the development, maintenance, and function of thymic epithelial cells, and the mechanisms by which they act.
    Keywords:  T cell development; thymic epithelial cells; transcription factors
  15. Cell Rep. 2021 Nov 09. pii: S2211-1247(21)01452-2. [Epub ahead of print]37(6): 109973
      T cell activation, proliferation, and differentiation involve metabolic reprogramming resulting from the interplay of genes, proteins, and metabolites. Here, we aim to understand the metabolic pathways involved in the activation and functional differentiation of human CD4+ T cell subsets (T helper [Th]1, Th2, Th17, and induced regulatory T [iTreg] cells). Here, we combine genome-scale metabolic modeling, gene expression data, and targeted and non-targeted lipidomics experiments, together with in vitro gene knockdown experiments, and show that human CD4+ T cells undergo specific metabolic changes during activation and functional differentiation. In addition, we confirm the importance of ceramide and glycosphingolipid biosynthesis pathways in Th17 differentiation and effector functions. Through in vitro gene knockdown experiments, we substantiate the requirement of serine palmitoyltransferase (SPT), a de novo sphingolipid pathway in the expression of proinflammatory cytokines (interleukin [IL]-17A and IL17F) by Th17 cells. Our findings provide a comprehensive resource for selective manipulation of CD4+ T cells under disease conditions characterized by an imbalance of Th17/natural Treg (nTreg) cells.
    Keywords:  CD4(+) T cells; ceramides; gene expression; genome-scale metabolic modeling; glycosphingolipid metabolism; lipid metabolism; lipidomics; metabolic pathways; sphingolipids; type 1 diabetes
  16. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2021 Nov 13.
      All living organisms need energy to carry out their essential functions. The importance of energy metabolism is increasingly recognized in human pluripotent stem cells. Energy production is not only essential for cell survival and proliferation, but also critical for pluripotency and cell fate determination. Thus, energy metabolism is an important target in cellular regulation and stem cell applications. In this review, we will discuss key factors that influence energy metabolism and their association with stem cell functions.
    Keywords:  Glycolysis; Insulin; Nutrient; Oxidative phosphorylation; Oxygen; pH
  17. Immunity. 2021 Nov 09. pii: S1074-7613(21)00445-3. [Epub ahead of print]54(11): 2437-2439
      Microbiota-specific T cell responses have been identified for select microbes, but individual T cell receptor repertoire differences make characterizing responses across populations difficult. In this issue of Immunity, Muschaweck et al. establish a system allowing for reproducible responses between individual mice, a powerful tool for characterizing microbiota directed immunity.
  18. Nat Cancer. 2021 Sep;2(9): 904-918
      Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells showed great activity in hematologic malignancies. However, heterogeneous antigen expression in tumor cells and suboptimal CAR-T cell persistence remain critical aspects to achieve clinical responses in patients with solid tumors. Here we show that CAR-T cells targeting simultaneously two tumor-associated antigens and providing transacting CD28 and 4-1BB costimulation, while sharing the sane CD3ζ-chain cause rapid antitumor effects in in vivo stress conditions, protection from tumor re-challenge and prevention of tumor escape due to low antigen density. Molecular and signaling studies indicate that T cells engineered with the proposed CAR design demonstrate sustained phosphorylation of T cell receptor-associated (TCR) signaling molecules and a molecular signature supporting CAR-T cell proliferation and long-term survival. Furthermore, metabolic profiling of CAR-T cells displayed induction of glycolysis that sustains rapid effector T cell function, but also preservation of oxidative functions, which are critical for T cell long-term persistence.
  19. MedComm (Beijing). 2020 Jun;1(1): 47-68
      Tumor microenvironment is a special environment for tumor survival, which is characterized by hypoxia, acidity, nutrient deficiency, and immunosuppression. The environment consists of the vasculature, immune cells, extracellular matrix, and proteins or metabolic molecules. A large number of recent studies have shown that not only tumor cells but also the immune cells in the tumor microenvironment have undergone metabolic reprogramming, which is closely related to tumor drug resistance and malignant progression. Tumor immunotherapy based on T cells gives patients new hope, but faces the dilemma of low response rate. New strategies sensitizing cancer immunotherapy are urgently needed. Metabolic reprogramming can directly affect the biological activity of tumor cells and also regulate the differentiation and activation of immune cells. The authors aim to review the characteristics of tumor microenvironment, the metabolic changes of tumor-associated immune cells, and the regulatory role of metabolic reprogramming in cancer immunotherapy.
    Keywords:  cancer therapy; immunity; metabolism; tumor microenvironment
  20. Nat Immunol. 2021 Nov 11.
      The molecular mechanisms governing orderly shutdown and retraction of CD4+ type 1 helper T (TH1) cell responses remain poorly understood. Here we show that complement triggers contraction of TH1 responses by inducing intrinsic expression of the vitamin D (VitD) receptor and the VitD-activating enzyme CYP27B1, permitting T cells to both activate and respond to VitD. VitD then initiated the transition from pro-inflammatory interferon-γ+ TH1 cells to suppressive interleukin-10+ cells. This process was primed by dynamic changes in the epigenetic landscape of CD4+ T cells, generating super-enhancers and recruiting several transcription factors, notably c-JUN, STAT3 and BACH2, which together with VitD receptor shaped the transcriptional response to VitD. Accordingly, VitD did not induce interleukin-10 expression in cells with dysfunctional BACH2 or STAT3. Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid CD4+ T cells of patients with COVID-19 were TH1-skewed and showed de-repression of genes downregulated by VitD, from either lack of substrate (VitD deficiency) and/or abnormal regulation of this system.
  21. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Nov 05. pii: 11977. [Epub ahead of print]22(21):
      CD38 is a transmembrane glycoprotein expressed by T-cells. It has been reported that patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) showed increased CD38+CD25+ T-cells correlating with immune activation and clinical signs. Contrariwise, CD38 deficiency in murine models has shown enhanced autoimmunity development. Recent studies have suggested that CD38+ regulatory T-cells are more suppressive than CD38- regulatory T-cells. Thus, we have suggested that CD38 overexpression in SLE patients could play a role in regulating immune activation cells instead of enhancing it. This study found a correlation between CD38 with FoxP3 expression and immunosuppressive molecules (CD69, IL-10, CTLA-4, and PD-1) in T-cells from lupus-prone mice (B6.MRL-Faslpr/J). Additionally, B6.MRL-Faslpr/J mice showed a decreased proportion of CD38+ Treg cells regarding wild-type mice (WT). Furthermore, Regulatory T-Cells (Treg cells) from CD38-/- mice showed impairment in expressing immunosuppressive molecules and proliferation after stimulation through the T-cell receptor (TCR). Finally, we demonstrated an increased ratio of IFN-γ/IL-10 secretion in CD38-/- splenocytes stimulated with anti-CD3 compared with the WT. Altogether, our data suggest that CD38 represents an element in maintaining activated and proliferative Treg cells. Consequently, CD38 could have a crucial role in immune tolerance, preventing SLE development through Treg cells.
    Keywords:  CD38; IFN-γ; IL-10; immunosuppressive; lupus-prone mice; regulatory T-cells; systemic lupus erythematosus
  22. Methods Mol Biol. 2022 ;2383 429-446
      Mitochondria represent an important drug target for many phatology, including neurodegeneration, metabolic disease, heart failure, ischemia-reperfusion injury, and cancer. Mitochondrial dysfunctions are caused by mutation in mitochondrial DNA or in nuclear genes encoding mitochondrial proteins. Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) have been employed to overcome biological barriers, target this organelle, and therapeuticaly restore mitochondrial functions. Here, we describe recent methods used to deliver oligonucleotides targeting mitochondrial protein by using mitochondrial penetrating peptides. In particular, we highlight recent advances of formulated peptides/oligonucleotides nanocomplexes as a proof-of-principle for pharmaceutical form of peptide-based therapeutics.
    Keywords:  Intracellular delivery; Mitochondria; Nanocarriers; Nanoparticles; mitFects
  23. Cent Eur J Immunol. 2021 ;46(2): 264-269
      The immune system with its numerous and complex interactions helps to protect the host from pathogenic microorganisms, and enables cleaning of damaged tissues. It is also associated with constant "monitoring" of the appearance of malignant cells and their elimination that can occur in the human body. Such a role depends on many factors including adequate intake of nutrients, including vitamins. The effect of vitamin supplementation on the modulation of the immune response has always been the focus of numerous studies. Vitamins A and D have been shown to have the greatest immune-modulatory effect. In this review, we discuss and consider the possible roles of vitamins A and D on the immune response through innate and adaptive immune cells, with special focus on the cell population recently characterized as innate lymphoid cells. Recent literature data indicate that vitamin A and its metabolites modulate the balance between Th1 and Th2 immunity. In addition, vitamin D expresses protective effects on the innate immune system and inhibitory effects on adaptive immunity.
    Keywords:  immune response; innate lymphoid cells; vitamin A; vitamin D