bims-imseme Biomed News
on Immunosenescence and T cell metabolism
Issue of 2021‒12‒19
nine papers selected by
Pierpaolo Ginefra
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

  1. Immunometabolism. 2022 ;pii: e220001. [Epub ahead of print]4(1):
      T cells rapidly convert their cellular metabolic requirements upon activation, switching to a highly glycolytic program to satisfy their increasingly complex energy needs. Fundamental metabolic differences have been established for the development of Foxp3+ T regulatory (Treg) cells versus TH17 cells, alterations of which can drive disease. TH17 cell dysregulation is a driver of autoimmunity and chronic inflammation, contributing to pathogenesis in diseases such as multiple sclerosis. A recent paper published in Cell by Wagner, et al. combined scRNA-seq and metabolic mapping data to interrogate potential metabolic modulators of TH17 cell pathogenicity. This Compass to TH17 cell metabolism highlights the polyamine pathway as a critical regulator of TH17/Treg cell function, signifying its potential as a therapeutic target.
    Keywords:  Foxp3; T regulatory; TH17 cell; arginine; glycolysis; inflammation; metabolism; polyamine
  2. Science. 2021 Dec 17. 374(6574): 1446-1447
      [Figure: see text].
  3. Front Immunol. 2021 ;12 718863
      T-cell activation upon antigen stimulation is essential for the continuation of the adaptive immune response. Impairment of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation is a well-known disruptor of T-cell activation. Dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) is a component of the de novo synthesis of pyrimidines, the activity of which depends on functional oxidative phosphorylation. Under circumstances of an inhibited oxidative phosphorylation, DHODH becomes rate-limiting. Inhibition of DHODH is known to block clonal expansion and expression of effector molecules of activated T cells. However, this effect has been suggested to be caused by downstream impairment of oxidative phosphorylation rather than a lower rate of pyrimidine synthesis. In this study, we successfully inhibit the DHODH of T cells with no residual effect on oxidative phosphorylation and demonstrate a dose-dependent inhibition of proliferation of activated CD3+ T cells. This block is fully rescued when uridine is supplemented. Inhibition of DHODH does not alter expression of effector molecules but results in decreased intracellular levels of deoxypyrimidines without decreasing cell viability. Our results clearly demonstrate the DHODH and mitochondrial linked pyrimidine synthesis as an independent and important cytostatic regulator of activated T cells.
    Keywords:  T-cell activation; T-cell metabolism; immunosenescence and exhaustion; mitochondrial respiration and oxidative respiration; pyrimidine de novo synthesis
  4. J Immunother Cancer. 2021 Dec;pii: e003614. [Epub ahead of print]9(12):
      BACKGROUND: Programmed death (ligand) 1 (PD-(L)1) blockade and OX40/4-1BB costimulation have been separately evaluated in the clinic to elicit potent antitumor T cell responses. The precise mechanisms underlying single agent activity are incompletely understood. It also remains unclear if combining individual therapies leads to synergism, elicits novel immune mechanisms, or invokes additive effects.METHODS: We performed high-dimensional flow cytometry and single-cell RNA sequencing-based immunoprofiling of murine tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) isolated from hosts bearing B16 or MC38 syngeneic tumors. This baseline infiltrate was compared to TILs after treatment with either anti-PD-(L)1, anti-OX40, or anti-4-1BB as single agents or as double and triple combinatorial therapies. Fingolimod treatment and CXCR3 blockade were used to evaluate the contribution of intratumoral versus peripheral CD8+ T cells to therapeutic efficacy.
    RESULTS: We identified CD8+ T cell subtypes with distinct functional and migratory signatures highly predictive of tumor rejection upon treatment with single agent versus combination therapies. Rather than reinvigorating terminally exhausted CD8+ T cells, OX40/4-1BB agonism expanded a stem-like PD-1loKLRG-1+Ki-67+CD8+ T cell subpopulation, which PD-(L)1 blockade alone did not. However, PD-(L)1 blockade synergized with OX40/4-1BB costimulation by dramatically enhancing stem-like TIL presence via a CXCR3-dependent mechanism.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our findings provide new mechanistic insights into the interplay between components of combinatorial immunotherapy, where agonism of select costimulatory pathways seeds a pool of stem-like CD8+ T cells more responsive to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB).
    Keywords:  CD8-positive T-lymphocytes; adaptive immunity; costimulatory and inhibitory T-cell receptors; gene expression profiling; lymphocytes; tumor-infiltrating
  5. Cancer Immunol Res. 2021 Dec 15. pii: canimm.0539.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cytotoxic CD8+ T cells (CTLs) are a crucial component of the immune system. These cells are notable for their ability to eliminate rapidly proliferating malignant cells. However, the T-cell intrinsic factors required for human CTLs to accomplish highly efficient antitumor cytotoxicity are not well defined. By evaluating human CD8+ T cells from responders vs. non-responders to treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors we sought to identify key factors associated with effective CTL function. Single-cell RNA-sequencing analysis of peripheral CD8+ T cells from patients treated with anti-PD-1 therapy showed that cells from non-responders exhibited decreased expression of the cytolytic granule-associated molecule NKG7. Functional assays revealed that reduced NKG7 expression altered cytolytic granule number, trafficking, and calcium release resulting in decreased CD8+ T cell-mediated killing of tumor cells. Transfection of T cells with NKG7 mRNA was sufficient to improve the tumor cell killing ability of human T cells isolated from non-responders and increase their response to anti-PD-1 or anti-PD-L1 therapy in vitro. Nkg7 mRNA therapy also improved the antitumor activity of murine tumor antigen-specific CD8+ T cells in an in vivo model of adoptive cell therapy. Finally, we showed that the transcription factor ETS1 played a role in regulating NKG7 expression. Together, our results identify NKG7 as a necessary component for the cytotoxic function of CD8+ T cells and establish NKG7 as a T-cell intrinsic therapeutic target for enhancing cancer immunotherapy.
  6. Cancer Cell. 2021 Dec 13. pii: S1535-6108(21)00610-3. [Epub ahead of print]39(12): 1549-1552
      T cells mediate anti-tumor immune responses and are the key target of immune checkpoint therapy, but they can also promote immune tolerance. A clear understanding of the specific contributions and biology of different T cell subsets is required to fully harness the curative potential of immunotherapies. Experts discuss the state of the field and key challenges for moving forward.
  7. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2021 Dec 15.
      Non-specific innate and antigen-specific adaptive immunological memories are vital evolutionary adaptations that confer long-lasting protection against a wide range of pathogens. Adaptive memory is established by memory T and B lymphocytes following the recognition of an antigen. On the other hand, innate immune memory, also called trained immunity, is imprinted in innate cells such as macrophages and natural killer cells through epigenetic and metabolic reprogramming. However, these mechanisms of memory generation and maintenance are compromised as organisms age. Almost all immune cell types, both mature cells and their progenitors, go through age-related changes concerning numbers and functions. The aging immune system renders the elderly highly susceptible to infections and incapable of mounting a proper immune response upon vaccinations. Besides the increased infectious burden, older individuals also have heightened risks of metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases, which have an immunological component. This review discusses how immune function, particularly the establishment and maintenance of innate and adaptive immunological memory, regulates and is regulated by epigenetics, metabolic processes, gut microbiota, and the central nervous system throughout life, with a focus on old age. We explain in-depth how epigenetics and cellular metabolism impact immune cell function and contribute or resist the aging process. Microbiota is intimately linked with the immune system of the human host, and therefore, plays an important role in immunological memory during both homeostasis and aging. The brain, which is not an immune-isolated organ despite former opinion, interacts with the peripheral immune cells, and the aging of both systems influences the health of each other. With all these in mind, we aimed to present a comprehensive view of the aging immune system and its consequences, especially in terms of immunological memory. The review also details the mechanisms of promising anti-aging interventions and highlights a few, namely, caloric restriction, physical exercise, metformin, and resveratrol, that impact multiple facets of the aging process, including the regulation of innate and adaptive immune memory. We propose that understanding aging as a complex phenomenon, with the immune system at the center role interacting with all the other tissues and systems, would allow for more effective anti-aging strategies.
    Keywords:  Aging; Immune memory; Immunosenescence; Metabolism; Microbiota; Trained Immunity
  8. FEBS J. 2021 Dec 16.
      Electron transport chain (ETC) dysfunction is a common feature of mitochondrial diseases and induces severe cellular stresses, including mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm ) reduction, mitochondrial matrix acidification, metabolic derangements and proteostatic stresses. Extensive studies of ETC dysfunction in yeast, C. elegans, cultured cells and mouse models have revealed multiple mitochondrial stress response pathways. Here, we summarize the current understanding of the triggers, sensors, signaling mechanisms, and the functional outcomes of mitochondrial stress responses in different species. We highlight Δψm reduction as a major trigger of stress responses in different species, but the responses are species-specific and the outcomes are context-dependent. ETC dysfunction elicits a mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt ) to repair damaged mitochondria in C. elegans, and activates a global adaptive program to maintain Δψm in yeast. Yeast and C. elegans responses are remarkably similar at the downstream responses, although they are activated by different signaling mechanisms. UPRmt generally protects ETC-defective worms, but its constitutive activation is toxic for wildtype worms and worms carrying mutant mtDNA. In contrast to lower organisms, ETC dysfunction in mammals mainly activates a mitochondrial integrated stress response (ISRmt ) to reprogram metabolism and a PINK1-Parkin mitophagy pathway to degrade damaged mitochondria. Accumulating in vivo results suggest that the ATF4 branch of ISRmt exacerbates metabolic derangements to accelerate mitochondrial disease progression. The in vivo roles of mitophagy in mitochondrial diseases are also context-dependent. These results thus reveal the common and unique aspects of mitochondrial stress responses in different species and highlight their multifaceted roles in mitochondrial diseases.
    Keywords:  ISRmt; Mitochondrial stress response; UPRmt; mitochondrial membrane potential; mitophagy
  9. EMBO Rep. 2021 Dec 16. e54384
      During embryonic development, hematopoiesis occurs through primitive and definitive waves, giving rise to distinct blood lineages. Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) emerge from hemogenic endothelial (HE) cells, through endothelial-to-hematopoietic transition (EHT). In the adult, HSC quiescence, maintenance, and differentiation are closely linked to changes in metabolism. However, metabolic processes underlying the emergence of HSCs from HE cells remain unclear. Here, we show that the emergence of blood is regulated by multiple metabolic pathways that induce or modulate the differentiation toward specific hematopoietic lineages during human EHT. In both in vitro and in vivo settings, steering pyruvate use toward glycolysis or OXPHOS differentially skews the hematopoietic output of HE cells toward either an erythroid fate with primitive phenotype, or a definitive lymphoid fate, respectively. We demonstrate that glycolysis-mediated differentiation of HE toward primitive erythroid hematopoiesis is dependent on the epigenetic regulator LSD1. In contrast, OXPHOS-mediated differentiation of HE toward definitive hematopoiesis is dependent on cholesterol metabolism. Our findings reveal that during EHT, metabolism is a major regulator of primitive versus definitive hematopoietic differentiation.
    Keywords:  OXPHOS; endothelial-to-hematopoietic transition; glycolysis; hematopoiesis; pyruvate metabolism