bims-imseme Biomed News
on Immunosenescence and T cell metabolism
Issue of 2022‒04‒24
eight papers selected by
Pierpaolo Ginefra
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

  1. Front Immunol. 2022 ;13 843242
      T cells are important components of adaptive immunity that protect the host against invading pathogens during infection. Upon recognizing the activation signals, naïve and/or memory T cells will initiate clonal expansion, trigger differentiation into effector populations and traffic to the inflamed sites to eliminate pathogens. However, in chronic viral infections, such as those caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B and C (HBV and HCV), T cells exhibit impaired function and become difficult to clear pathogens in a state known as T-cell exhaustion. The activation and function persistence of T cells demand for dynamic changes in cellular metabolism to meet their bioenergetic and biosynthetic demands, especially the augmentation of aerobic glycolysis, which not only provide efficient energy generation, but also fuel multiple biochemical intermediates that are essential for nucleotide, amino acid, fatty acid synthesis and mitochondria function. Changes in cellular metabolism also affect the function of effectors T cells through modifying epigenetic signatures. It is widely accepted that the dysfunction of T cell metabolism contributes greatly to T-cell exhaustion. Here, we reviewed recent findings on T cells metabolism under chronic viral infection, seeking to reveal the role of metabolic dysfunction played in T-cell exhaustion.
    Keywords:  PD-1; T-cell exhaustion; chronic viral infection; glycolysis; metabolism
  2. Cell Metab. 2022 Apr 18. pii: S1550-4131(22)00127-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      Glycolysis, including both lactate fermentation and pyruvate oxidation, orchestrates CD8+ T cell differentiation. However, how mitochondrial pyruvate metabolism and uptake controlled by the mitochondrial pyruvate carrier (MPC) impact T cell function and fate remains elusive. We found that genetic deletion of MPC drives CD8+ T cell differentiation toward a memory phenotype. Metabolic flexibility induced by MPC inhibition facilitated acetyl-coenzyme-A production by glutamine and fatty acid oxidation that results in enhanced histone acetylation and chromatin accessibility on pro-memory genes. However, in the tumor microenvironment, MPC is essential for sustaining lactate oxidation to support CD8+ T cell antitumor function. We further revealed that chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell manufacturing with an MPC inhibitor imprinted a memory phenotype and demonstrated that infusing MPC inhibitor-conditioned CAR T cells resulted in superior and long-lasting antitumor activity. Altogether, we uncover that mitochondrial pyruvate uptake instructs metabolic flexibility for guiding T cell differentiation and antitumor responses.
    Keywords:  T cell memory; chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy; immunometabolism; mitochondrial pyruvate carrier; tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte metabolism
  3. Nat Commun. 2022 Apr 20. 13(1): 2155
      T cell factor 1 (TCF1) is required for memory and stem-like CD8+ T cell functions. How TCF1 partners with other transcription factors to regulate transcription remains unclear. Here we show that negative elongation factor (NELF), an RNA polymerase II (Pol II) pausing factor, cooperates with TCF1 in T cell responses to cancer. Deletion of mouse Nelfb, which encodes the NELFB subunit, in mature T lymphocytes impairs immune responses to both primary tumor challenge and tumor antigen-mediated vaccination. Nelfb deletion causes more exhausted and reduced memory T cell populations, whereas its ectopic expression boosts antitumor immunity and efficacy of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell immunotherapy. Mechanistically, NELF is associated with TCF1 and recruited preferentially to the enhancers and promoters of TCF1 target genes. Nelfb ablation reduces Pol II pausing and chromatin accessibility at these TCF1-associated loci. Our findings thus suggest an important and rate-limiting function of NELF in anti-tumor immunity.
  4. Exerc Immunol Rev. 2022 ;28 29-46
      BACKGROUND: The term immunometabolism describes cellular and molecular metabolic processes that control the immune system and the associated immune responses. Acute exercise and regular physical activity have a substantial influence on the metabolism and the immune system, so that both processes are closely associated and influence each other bidirectionally.SCOPE OF REVIEW: We limit the review here to focus on metabolic phenotypes and metabolic plasticity of T cells and macrophages to describe the complex role of acute exercise stress and regular physical activity on these cell types. The metabolic and immunological consequences of the social problem of inactivity and how, conversely, an active lifestyle can break this vicious circle, are then described. Finally, these aspects are evaluated against the background of an aging society.
    MAJOR CONCLUSIONS: T cells and macrophages show high sensitivity to changes in their metabolic environment, which indirectly or directly affects their central functions. Physical activity and sedentary behaviour have an important influence on metabolic status, thereby modifying immune cell phenotypes and influencing immunological plasticity. A detailed understanding of the interactions between acute and chronic physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and the metabolic status of immune cells, can help to target the dysregulated immune system of people who live in a much too inactive society.
    Keywords:  Exercise; Immune System; Inflammation; Metabolism; Sedentary behavior
  5. Front Immunol. 2022 ;13 873834
      In recent years, various breakthroughs have been made in tumor immunotherapy that have contributed to prolonging the survival of tumor patients. However, only a subset of patients respond to immunotherapy, which limits its use. One reason for this is that the tumor microenvironment (TME) hinders the migration and infiltration of T cells and affects their continuous functioning, resulting in an exhausted phenotype. Therefore, clarifying the mechanism by which T cells become exhausted is of significance for improving the efficacy of immunotherapy. Several recent studies have shown that mitochondrial dynamics play an important role in the immune surveillance function of T cells. Dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1) is a key protein that mediates mitochondrial fission and maintains the mitochondrial dynamic network. Drp1 regulates various activities of T cells in vivo by mediating the activation of a series of pathways. In addition, abnormal mitochondrial dynamics were observed in exhausted T cells in the TME. As a potential target for immunotherapy, in this review, we describe in detail how Drp1 regulates various physiological functions of T cells and induces changes in mitochondrial dynamics in the TME, providing a theoretical basis for further research.
    Keywords:  T cell exhaustion; dynamin-related protein 1; immunotherapy; mitochondrial dynamics; tumor microenvironment
  6. Nat Commun. 2022 Apr 19. 13(1): 2033
      TCR stimulation triggers Ca2+ signals that are critical for T cell function and immunity. Several pore-forming α and auxiliary β subunits of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels (VGCC) were reported in T cells, but their mechanism of activation remains elusive and their contribution to Ca2+ signaling in T cells is controversial. We here identify CaVβ1, encoded by Cacnb1, as a regulator of T cell function. Cacnb1 deletion enhances apoptosis and impairs the clonal expansion of T cells after lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection. By contrast, Cacnb1 is dispensable for T cell proliferation, cytokine production and Ca2+ signaling. Using patch clamp electrophysiology and Ca2+ recordings, we are unable to detect voltage-gated Ca2+ currents or Ca2+ influx in human and mouse T cells upon depolarization with or without prior TCR stimulation. mRNAs of several VGCC α1 subunits are detectable in human (CaV3.3, CaV3.2) and mouse (CaV2.1) T cells, but they lack transcription of many 5' exons, likely resulting in N-terminally truncated and non-functional proteins. Our findings demonstrate that although CaVβ1 regulates T cell function, these effects are independent of VGCC channel activity.
  7. Immunol Lett. 2022 Apr 13. pii: S0165-2478(22)00052-9. [Epub ahead of print]245 61-68
      Highly coordinated signaling following TCR stimulation triggers activation and subsequent differentiation of T cells. CD38 is a major mammalian nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD)+ glycohydrolase expressed on T cells, and appears to be an important modulator of T cell response in tumor models. However, the functional involvement of CD38 in T cells remains largely unknown. Therefore, we characterize the presence and function of CD38 in lymphocytes from metastatic pleural effusions (MPE). Of note, a significant accumulation of CD38+CD8+ T cells was observed in MPE compared with matched peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Moreover, PD-1 expression was significantly increased within the CD38+CD8+ T cell fraction compared to CD38- counterparts. We further showed decreased amounts of IFNγ and TNFα production together with reduced mitochondrial membrane potential in CD38+CD8+ T cells. Indeed, the impaired capacity of secreting IFNγ and TNFα by CD38+CD8+ T cells was likely due to damaged mitochondrial function. Taken together, we have identified a subset of CD38+CD8+ T cells in MPE, which possessed exhausted phenotype accompanied by altered mitochondrial metabolism.
    Keywords:  CD38; CD8(+)T cell; Malignancy; Mitochondria; Pleural effusion
  8. Immunometabolism. 2022 ;pii: e220009. [Epub ahead of print]4(2):
      CD4+ T cells contribute to the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). These cells infiltrate the joints of RA patients and produce cytokines, including Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, that drive joint inflammation and bone destruction. Although biologic therapeutics targeting T cells and TNF-α have benefited patients suffering from RA, some patients are refractory to these therapies, develop antibodies that neutralize these biologics, or develop undesirable side effects. Recent studies indicate that CD4+ T cell cytokine production is regulated in part by specific metabolic modules, suggesting that immunometabolic pathways could represent a novel therapeutic strategy for T cell-mediated diseases such as RA. Wu et al. (2021) demonstrate that mitochondrial function is impaired in CD4+ T cells from RA patients, leading to reduced levels of various citric acid cycle metabolites (e.g., aspartate) that regulate TNF-α production. Treatment of RA-associated T cells with purified mitochondria was sufficient to restore these metabolic defects, limit production of numerous pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α and IL-17A, and reduce the development of RA-like disease in a humanized mouse model. These data suggest that T cells can be metabolically "re-engineered" ex vivo with exogenous mitochondria and that this mitochondria transfer approach confers anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce disease severity in RA and possibly other rheumatologic diseases. Increasing our understanding of how intercellular mitochondria transfer occurs may identify novel biological pathways that can be targeted therapeutically or harnessed to support cell engineering.
    Keywords:  CD4 T cells; mitochondria; rheumatoid arthritis