bims-imseme Biomed News
on Immunosenescence and T cell metabolism
Issue of 2021‒12‒12
eighteen papers selected by
Pierpaolo Ginefra
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

  1. Cell Metab. 2021 Dec 07. pii: S1550-4131(21)00537-4. [Epub ahead of print]33(12): 2305-2306
      The metabolic state of T cells strongly influences their effector function and anti-tumor efficacy. St. Paul et al. (2021) report that Tc22, a CD8+ T cell subset with potent anti-tumor activity, upregulates the pantothenate/coenzyme A (CoA) pathway and that treatment with CoA or pantothenate is sufficient to enhance tumor immunotherapy.
  2. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2021 Dec 09. 23(12): 45
      PURPOSE OF REVIEW: In this article, we summarize the current literature supporting metabolic and redox signaling pathways as important mechanisms underlying T cell activation in the context of hypertension.RECENT FINDINGS: T cell immunometabolism undergoes dramatic remodeling in order to meet the demands of T cell activation, differentiation, and proliferation. Recent evidence demonstrates that the T cell oxidation-reduction (redox) system also undergoes significant changes upon activation, which can itself modulate metabolic processes and T cell function. Dysregulation of these signaling pathways can lead to aberrant T cell activation and inappropriate ROS production, both of which are linked to pathological conditions like hypertension. While the contribution of T cells to the progression of hypertension has been thoroughly investigated, how T cell metabolism and redox signaling changes, both separately and together, is an area of study that remains largely untouched. This review presents evidence from our own laboratory as well as others to highlight the importance of these two mechanisms in the study of hypertension.
    Keywords:  Hypertension; Immune cells; Immunometabolism; Redox signaling; T cells
  3. Immunity. 2021 Dec 03. pii: S1074-7613(21)00495-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      T cell exhaustion limits anti-tumor immunity and responses to immunotherapy. Here, we explored the microenvironmental signals regulating T cell exhaustion using a model of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Single-cell analyses identified a subset of PD-1hi, functionally impaired CD8+ T cells that accumulated in secondary lymphoid organs during disease progression and a functionally competent PD-1int subset. Frequencies of PD-1int TCF-1+ CD8+ T cells decreased upon Il10rb or Stat3 deletion, leading to accumulation of PD-1hi cells and accelerated tumor progression. Mechanistically, inhibition of IL-10R signaling altered chromatin accessibility and disrupted cooperativity between the transcription factors NFAT and AP-1, promoting a distinct NFAT-associated program. Low IL10 expression or loss of IL-10R-STAT3 signaling correlated with increased frequencies of exhausted CD8+ T cells and poor survival in CLL and in breast cancer patients. Thus, balance between PD-1hi, exhausted CD8+ T cells and functional PD-1int TCF-1+ CD8+ T cells is regulated by cell-intrinsic IL-10R signaling, with implications for immunotherapy.
    Keywords:  CD8(+) T cells; CLL; IL-10; IL-10R; NFAT; PD-1 heterogeneity; STAT3; T cell exhaustion; TCF-1; tumor microenvironment
  4. Nat Metab. 2021 Dec 06.
      Ageing-associated functional decline of organs and increased risk for age-related chronic pathologies is driven in part by the accumulation of senescent cells, which develop the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). Here we show that procyanidin C1 (PCC1), a polyphenolic component of grape seed extract (GSE), increases the healthspan and lifespan of mice through its action on senescent cells. By screening a library of natural products, we find that GSE, and PCC1 as one of its active components, have specific effects on senescent cells. At low concentrations, PCC1 appears to inhibit SASP formation, whereas it selectively kills senescent cells at higher concentrations, possibly by promoting production of reactive oxygen species and mitochondrial dysfunction. In rodent models, PCC1 depletes senescent cells in a treatment-damaged tumour microenvironment and enhances therapeutic efficacy when co-administered with chemotherapy. Intermittent administration of PCC1 to either irradiated, senescent cell-implanted or naturally aged old mice alleviates physical dysfunction and prolongs survival. We identify PCC1 as a natural senotherapeutic agent with in vivo activity and high potential for further development as a clinical intervention to delay, alleviate or prevent age-related pathologies.
  5. Front Immunol. 2021 ;12 706150
      Robust T cell responses are crucial for effective anti-tumor responses and often dictate patient survival. However, in the context of solid tumors, both endogenous T cell responses and current adoptive T cell therapies are impeded by the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME). A multitude of inhibitory signals, suppressive immune cells, metabolites, hypoxic conditions and limiting nutrients are believed to render the TME non-conducive to sustaining productive T cell responses. In this study we conducted an in-depth phenotypic and functional comparison of tumor-specific T cells and tumor-nonspecific bystander memory T cells within the same TME. Using two distinct TCR transgenic and solid-tumor models, our data demonstrate that despite exposure to the same cell-extrinsic factors of the TME, the tumor-nonspecific bystander CD8 T cells retain the complete panoply of memory markers, and do not share the same exhaustive phenotype as tumor-reactive T cells. Compared to tumor-specific T cells, bystander memory CD8 T cells in the TME also retain functional effector cytokine production capabilities in response to ex vivo cognate antigenic stimulation. Consistent with these results, bystander memory T cells isolated from tumors showed enhanced recall responses to secondary bacterial challenge in a T cell transplant model. Importantly, the tumor-resident bystander memory cells could also efficiently utilize the available resources within the TME to elaborate in situ recall effector functions following intra-tumoral peptide antigen injection. Additionally, CRISPR-Cas9 gene deletion studies showed that CXCR3 was critical for the trafficking of both tumor antigen-specific and bystander memory T cells to solid tumors. Collectively, these findings that T cells can persist and retain their functionality in distinct solid tumor environments in the absence of cognate antigenic stimulation, support the notion that persistent antigenic signaling is the central driver of T cell exhaustion within the TME. These studies bear implications for programming more efficacious TCR- and CAR-T cells with augmented therapeutic efficacy and longevity through regulation of antigen and chemokine receptors.
    Keywords:  CAR T therapy; CXCR3; antigen; bystander memory anti-tumor immunity; chemokines; tumor microenvironment
  6. Cell Rep. 2021 Dec 07. pii: S2211-1247(21)01574-6. [Epub ahead of print]37(10): 110083
      Robust expansion of adoptively transferred T cells is a prerequisite for effective cancer immunotherapy, but how many genes in the genome modulate T cell expansion remains unknown. Here, we perform in vivo and in vitro CRISPR screens to systematically identify genes influencing CD8 T cell expansion. In the mouse genome, ∼2,600 and ∼1,500 genes are required for optimal CD8 T cell expansion in vivo and in vitro, respectively. In vivo-specific CD8 T cell essential genes are enriched in metabolic pathways, including mitochondrial metabolism. The strongest repressor of CD8 T cell expansion is Roquin, the ablation of which drastically boosts T cell proliferation by enhancing cell-cycle progression and upregulation of IRF4. Roquin deficiency or IRF4 overexpression potently enhances anti-tumor immunity. These data provide a functional catalog of CD8 T cell fitness genes and suggest that targeting the Roquin-IRF4 axis is an effective strategy to enhance efficacy of adoptive transfer therapy for cancer.
    Keywords:  CRISPR screen; IRF4; Rc3h1; Roquin; T cell expansion; adoptive cell transfer; cancer immunotherapy; essential gene; fitness gene; lymphodepletion
  7. Cell Metab. 2021 Dec 07. pii: S1550-4131(21)00538-6. [Epub ahead of print]33(12): 2415-2427.e6
      Metabolic programming is intricately linked to the anti-tumor properties of T cells. To study the metabolic pathways associated with increased anti-tumor T cell function, we utilized a metabolomics approach to characterize three different CD8+ T cell subsets with varying degrees of anti-tumor activity in murine models, of which IL-22-producing Tc22 cells displayed the most robust anti-tumor activity. Tc22s demonstrated upregulation of the pantothenate/coenzyme A (CoA) pathway and a requirement for oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) for differentiation. Exogenous administration of CoA reprogrammed T cells to increase OXPHOS and adopt the CD8+ Tc22 phenotype independent of polarizing conditions via the transcription factors HIF-1α and the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). In murine tumor models, treatment of mice with the CoA precursor pantothenate enhanced the efficacy of anti-PDL1 antibody therapy. In patients with melanoma, pre-treatment plasma pantothenic acid levels were positively correlated with the response to anti-PD1 therapy. Collectively, our data demonstrate that pantothenate and its metabolite CoA drive T cell polarization, bioenergetics, and anti-tumor immunity.
    Keywords:  CD8(+) T cells; IL-22; Tc1; Tc17; Tc22; anti-PD1; coenzyme A; immunometabolism; immunotherapy; pantothenate
  8. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Nov 24. pii: 5912. [Epub ahead of print]13(23):
      Over the past decade, advances in cancer immunotherapy through PD1-PDL1 and CTLA4 immune checkpoint blockade have revolutionized the management of cancer treatment. However, these treatments are inefficient for many cancers, and unfortunately, few patients respond to these treatments. Indeed, altered metabolic pathways in the tumor play a pivotal role in tumor growth and immune response. Thus, the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME) reprograms the behavior of immune cells by altering their cellular machinery and nutrient availability to limit antitumor functions. Today, thanks to a better understanding of cancer metabolism, immunometabolism and immune checkpoint evasion, the development of new therapeutic approaches targeting the energy metabolism of cancer or immune cells greatly improve the efficacy of immunotherapy in different cancer models. Herein, we highlight the changes in metabolic pathways that regulate the differentiation of pro- and antitumor immune cells and how TME-induced metabolic stress impedes their antitumor activity. Finally, we propose some drug strategies to target these pathways in the context of cancer immunotherapy.
    Keywords:  cancer; immune response; immunotherapy; metabolic drug; metabolism
  9. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Dec 04. pii: 13119. [Epub ahead of print]22(23):
      Immunosenescence is a process of remodeling the immune system under the influence of chronic inflammation during aging. Parkinson's disease (PD) is a common age-associated neurodegenerative disorder and is frequently accompanied by neuroinflammation. On the other hand, cytomegalovirus (CMV), one of the most spread infections in humans, may induce chronic inflammation which contributes to immunosenescence, differentiation and the inflation of T cells and NK cells. Currently, there is no clear understanding of immunosenescence severity in PD patients infected with CMV. In this study, we analyzed differentiation stages and immunosenescence characteristics of T cells and NK cells in 31 patients with mild and moderate PD severity, 33 age-matched and 30 young healthy donors. The PD patients were 100% CMV-seropositive compared to 76% age-matched and 73% young CMV-infected healthy donors. The proportion of effector memory T cells re-expressing CD45RA, CD57+CD56- T cells and CD57+CD56+ T cells was significantly reduced in PD patients compared with CMV-seropositive age-matched healthy individuals. The CD57+CD56- T cell proportion in PD patients was similar to that of CMV-seropositive young healthy donors. Thus, PD is characterized by reduced peripheral blood T cell immunosenescence, even against the background of CMV infection.
    Keywords:  Parkinson’s disease; cytomegalovirus; differentiation of immune cells; neuroinflammation; peripheral immune system
  10. J Immunol. 2021 Dec 06. pii: ji2100452. [Epub ahead of print]
      CD8+ memory T (TM) cells play a critical role in immune defense against infection. Two common γ-chain family cytokines, IL-2 and IL-7, although triggering the same mTORC1-S6K pathway, distinctly induce effector T (TE) cells and TM cells, respectively, but the underlying mechanism(s) remains elusive. In this study, we generated IL-7R-/and AMPKα1-knockout (KO)/OTI mice. By using genetic and pharmaceutical tools, we demonstrate that IL-7 deficiency represses expression of FOXO1, TCF1, p-AMPKα1 (T172), and p-ULK1 (S555) and abolishes T cell memory differentiation in IL-7R KO T cells after Listeria monocytogenesis rLmOVA infection. IL-2- and IL-7-stimulated strong and weak S6K (IL-2/S6Kstrong and IL-7/S6Kweak) signals control short-lived IL-7R-CD62L-KLRG1+ TE and long-term IL-7R+CD62L+KLRG1- TM cell formations, respectively. To assess underlying molecular pathway(s), we performed flow cytometry, Western blotting, confocal microscopy, and Seahorse assay analyses by using the IL-7/S6Kweak-stimulated TM (IL-7/TM) and the control IL-2/S6Kstrong-stimulated TE (IL-2/TE) cells. We determine that the IL-7/S6Kweak signal activates transcriptional FOXO1, TCF1, and Id3 and metabolic p-AMPKα1, p-ULK1, and ATG7 molecules in IL-7/TM cells. IL-7/TM cells upregulate IL-7R and CD62L, promote mitochondria biogenesis and fatty acid oxidation metabolism, and show long-term cell survival and functional recall responses. Interestingly, AMPKα1 deficiency abolishes the AMPKα1 but maintains the FOXO1 pathway and induces a metabolic switch from fatty acid oxidation to glycolysis in AMPKα1 KO IL-7/TM cells, leading to loss of cell survival and recall responses. Taken together, our data demonstrate that IL-7-stimulated weak strength of mTORC1-S6K signaling controls T cell memory via activation of transcriptional FOXO1-TCF1-Id3 and metabolic AMPKα1-ULK1-ATG7 pathways. This (to our knowledge) novel finding provides a new mechanism for a distinct IL-2/IL-7 stimulation model in T cell memory and greatly impacts vaccine development.
  11. IUBMB Life. 2021 Dec 10.
      The clearance of damaged or unwanted mitochondria by autophagy (also known as mitophagy) is a mitochondrial quality control mechanism postulated to play an essential role in cellular homeostasis, metabolism, and development and confers protection against a wide range of diseases. Proper removal of damaged or unwanted mitochondria is essential for organismal health. Defects in mitophagy are associated with Parkinson's, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, and other degenerative disorders. Mitochondria regulate organismal fitness and longevity via multiple pathways, including cellular senescence, stem cell function, inflammation, mitochondrial unfolded protein response (mtUPR), and bioenergetics. Thus, mitophagy is postulated to be pivotal for maintaining organismal healthspan and lifespan and the protection against aged-related degeneration. In this review, we will summarize recent understanding of the mechanism of mitophagy and aspects of mitochondrial functions. We will focus on mitochondria-related cellular processes that are linked to aging and examine current genetic evidence that supports the hypothesis that mitophagy is a pro-longevity mechanism.
    Keywords:  aging; longevity; mitophagy
  12. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Dec 06. pii: 13173. [Epub ahead of print]22(23):
      Cellular senescence entails a state of an essentially irreversible proliferative arrest in which cells remain metabolically active and secrete a range of pro-inflammatory and proteolytic factors as part of the senescence-associated secretory phenotype. There are different types of senescent cells, and senescence can be induced in response to many DNA damage signals. Senescent cells accumulate in different tissues and organs where they have distinct physiological and pathological functions. Despite this diversity, all senescent cells must be able to survive in a nondividing state while protecting themselves from positive feedback loops linked to the constant activation of the DNA damage response. This capacity requires changes in core cellular programs. Understanding how different cell types can undergo extensive changes in their transcriptional programs, metabolism, heterochromatin patterns, and cellular structures to induce a common cellular state is crucial to preventing cancer development/progression and to improving health during aging. In this review, we discuss how senescent cells continuously evolve after their initial proliferative arrest and highlight the unifying features that define the senescent state.
    Keywords:  DNA damage signaling; aging; cell cycle arrest; cellular senescence; epigenetic and chromatin changes; metabolism alteration; mitochondrial dysfunction; senescence-associated secretory phenotype; transcriptome signature
  13. EBioMedicine. 2021 Dec 04. pii: S2352-3964(21)00528-4. [Epub ahead of print]74 103734
      BACKGROUND: L-kynurenine is a tryptophan-derived immunosuppressive metabolite and precursor to neurotoxic anthranilate and quinolinate. We evaluated the stereoisomer D-kynurenine as an immunosuppressive therapeutic which is hypothesized to produce less neurotoxic metabolites than L-kynurenine.METHODS: L-/D-kynurenine effects on human and murine T cell function were examined in vitro and in vivo (homeostatic proliferation, colitis, cardiac transplant). Kynurenine effects on T cell metabolism were interrogated using [13C] glucose, glutamine and palmitate tracing. Kynurenine was measured in tissues from human and murine tumours and kynurenine-fed mice.
    FINDINGS: We observed that 1 mM D-kynurenine inhibits T cell proliferation through apoptosis similar to L-kynurenine. Mechanistically, [13C]-tracing revealed that co-stimulated CD4+ T cells exposed to L-/D-kynurenine undergo increased β-oxidation depleting fatty acids. Replenishing oleate/palmitate restored effector T cell viability. We administered dietary D-kynurenine reaching tissue kynurenine concentrations of 19 μM, which is close to human kidney (6 μM) and head and neck cancer (14 μM) but well below the 1 mM required for apoptosis. D-kynurenine protected Rag1-/- mice from autoimmune colitis in an aryl-hydrocarbon receptor dependent manner but did not attenuate more stringent immunological challenges such as antigen mismatched cardiac allograft rejection.
    INTERPRETATION: Our dietary kynurenine model achieved tissue concentrations at or above human cancer kynurenine and exhibited only limited immunosuppression. Sub-suppressive kynurenine concentrations in human cancers may limit the responsiveness to indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase inhibition evaluated in clinical trials.
    FUNDING: The study was supported by the NIH, the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Foundation, Laffey McHugh foundation, and American Society of Nephrology.
    Keywords:  T cell metabolism; aryl hydrocarbon receptor; cancer metabolism; immunosuppression; indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase; tumour microenvironment
  14. Nat Commun. 2021 Dec 08. 12(1): 7115
      Lactic acidosis, the extracellular accumulation of lactate and protons, is a consequence of increased glycolysis triggered by insufficient oxygen supply to tissues. Macrophages are able to differentiate from monocytes under such acidotic conditions, and remain active in order to resolve the underlying injury. Here we show that, in lactic acidosis, human monocytes differentiating into macrophages are characterized by depolarized mitochondria, transient reduction of mitochondrial mass due to mitophagy, and a significant decrease in nutrient absorption. These metabolic changes, resembling pseudostarvation, result from the low extracellular pH rather than from the lactosis component, and render these cells dependent on autophagy for survival. Meanwhile, acetoacetate, a natural metabolite produced by the liver, is utilized by monocytes/macrophages as an alternative fuel to mitigate lactic acidosis-induced pseudostarvation, as evidenced by retained mitochondrial integrity and function, retained nutrient uptake, and survival without the need of autophagy. Our results thus show that acetoacetate may increase tissue tolerance to sustained lactic acidosis.
  15. Nat Commun. 2021 Dec 06. 12(1): 6997
      Pathological variants of human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) typically co-exist with wild-type molecules, but the factors driving the selection of each are not understood. Because mitochondrial fitness does not favour the propagation of functional mtDNAs in disease states, we sought to create conditions where it would be advantageous. Glucose and glutamine consumption are increased in mtDNA dysfunction, and so we targeted the use of both in cells carrying the pathogenic m.3243A>G variant with 2-Deoxy-D-glucose (2DG), or the related 5-thioglucose. Here, we show that both compounds selected wild-type over mutant mtDNA, restoring mtDNA expression and respiration. Mechanistically, 2DG selectively inhibits the replication of mutant mtDNA; and glutamine is the key target metabolite, as its withdrawal, too, suppresses mtDNA synthesis in mutant cells. Additionally, by restricting glucose utilization, 2DG supports functional mtDNAs, as glucose-fuelled respiration is critical for mtDNA replication in control cells, when glucose and glutamine are scarce. Hence, we demonstrate that mitochondrial fitness dictates metabolite preference for mtDNA replication; consequently, interventions that restrict metabolite availability can suppress pathological mtDNAs, by coupling mitochondrial fitness and replication.
  16. Mediators Inflamm. 2021 ;2021 9087816
      Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) is a lipid mediator derived from the fatty acid arachidonic acid. As an essential inflammatory factor, PGE2 has a critical impact on immune regulation through the prostanoid E (EP) receptor pathway. T cells, including CD4+ and CD8+ T cell subsets, play crucial roles in the adaptive immune response. Previous studies have shown that PGE2 is involved in regulating CD4+ T cell differentiation and inflammatory cytokine production via the EP receptor pathway, thereby affecting the development of diseases mediated by CD4+ T cells. In this review, we summarize the signaling pathway of PGE2 and describe the relationship between PGE2 and T cell differentiation. Hence, this review may provide important evidence for immune therapies and may even promote the development of biomedicines.
  17. Nat Biomed Eng. 2021 Dec 06.
      Malignant transformation and tumour progression are associated with cancer-cell softening. Yet how the biomechanics of cancer cells affects T-cell-mediated cytotoxicity and thus the outcomes of adoptive T-cell immunotherapies is unknown. Here we show that T-cell-mediated cancer-cell killing is hampered for cortically soft cancer cells, which have plasma membranes enriched in cholesterol, and that cancer-cell stiffening via cholesterol depletion augments T-cell cytotoxicity and enhances the efficacy of adoptive T-cell therapy against solid tumours in mice. We also show that the enhanced cytotoxicity against stiffened cancer cells is mediated by augmented T-cell forces arising from an increased accumulation of filamentous actin at the immunological synapse, and that cancer-cell stiffening has negligible influence on: T-cell-receptor signalling, production of cytolytic proteins such as granzyme B, secretion of interferon gamma and tumour necrosis factor alpha, and Fas-receptor-Fas-ligand interactions. Our findings reveal a mechanical immune checkpoint that could be targeted therapeutically to improve the effectiveness of cancer immunotherapies.
  18. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2021 Dec;28(12): 1009-1019
      NAD metabolism is essential for all forms of life. Compartmental regulation of NAD+ consumption, especially between the nucleus and the mitochondria, is required for energy homeostasis. However, how compartmental regulation evolved remains unclear. In the present study, we investigated the evolution of the macrodomain-containing histone variant macroH2A1.1, an integral chromatin component that limits nuclear NAD+ consumption by inhibiting poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 in vertebrate cells. We found that macroH2A originated in premetazoan protists. The crystal structure of the macroH2A macrodomain from the protist Capsaspora owczarzaki allowed us to identify highly conserved principles of ligand binding and pinpoint key residue substitutions, selected for during the evolution of the vertebrate stem lineage. Metabolic characterization of the Capsaspora lifecycle suggested that the metabolic function of macroH2A was associated with nonproliferative stages. Taken together, we provide insight into the evolution of a chromatin element involved in compartmental NAD regulation, relevant for understanding its metabolism and potential therapeutic applications.