bims-imseme Biomed News
on Immunosenescence and T cell metabolism
Issue of 2023‒09‒24
twenty-two papers selected by
Pierpaolo Ginefra, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

  1. Nature. 2023 Sep 20.
      Protective immunity against pathogens or cancer is mediated by the activation and clonal expansion of antigen-specific naive T cells into effector T cells. To sustain their rapid proliferation and effector functions, naive T cells switch their quiescent metabolism to an anabolic metabolism through increased levels of aerobic glycolysis, but also through mitochondrial metabolism and oxidative phosphorylation, generating energy and signalling molecules1-3. However, how that metabolic rewiring drives and defines the differentiation of T cells remains unclear. Here we show that proliferating effector CD8+ T cells reductively carboxylate glutamine through the mitochondrial enzyme isocitrate dehydrogenase 2 (IDH2). Notably, deletion of the gene encoding IDH2 does not impair the proliferation of T cells nor their effector function, but promotes the differentiation of memory CD8+ T cells. Accordingly, inhibiting IDH2 during ex vivo manufacturing of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells induces features of memory T cells and enhances antitumour activity in melanoma, leukaemia and multiple myeloma. Mechanistically, inhibition of IDH2 activates compensating metabolic pathways that cause a disequilibrium in metabolites regulating histone-modifying enzymes, and this maintains chromatin accessibility at genes that are required for the differentiation of memory T cells. These findings show that reductive carboxylation in CD8+ T cells is dispensable for their effector response and proliferation, but that it mainly produces a pattern of metabolites that epigenetically locks CD8+ T cells into a terminal effector differentiation program. Blocking this metabolic route allows the increased formation of memory T cells, which could be exploited to optimize the therapeutic efficacy of CAR T cells.
  2. Cancer Discov. 2023 Sep 20.
      The tumor microenvironment (TME) restricts anti-tumor CD8+ T cell function and immunotherapy responses. Cancer cells compromise metabolic fitness of CD8+ T cells within the TME, but the mechanisms are largely unknown. Here we demonstrate one carbon (1C) metabolism is enhanced in T cells in an antigen-specific manner. Therapeutic supplementation of 1C metabolism using formate enhances CD8+ T cell fitness and anti-tumor efficacy of PD-1 blockade in B16-OVA tumors. Formate supplementation drives transcriptional alterations in CD8+ T cell metabolism and increases gene signatures for cellular proliferation and activation. Combined formate and anti-PD-1 therapy increases tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells, which are essential for the enhanced tumor control. Our data demonstrate formate provides metabolic support to CD8+ T cells reinvigorated by anti-PD-1 to overcome a metabolic vulnerability in 1C metabolism in the TME to further improve T cell function.
  3. Sci Immunol. 2023 Sep 29. 8(87): eadf7579
      Mitophagy, a central process guarding mitochondrial quality, is commonly impaired in human diseases such as Parkinson's disease, but its impact in adaptive immunity remains unclear. The differentiation and survival of memory CD8+ T cells rely on oxidative metabolism, a process that requires robust mitochondrial quality control. Here, we found that Parkinson's disease patients have a reduced frequency of CD8+ memory T cells compared with healthy donors and failed to form memory T cells upon vaccination against COVID-19, highlighting the importance of mitochondrial quality control for memory CD8+ T cell formation. We further uncovered that regulators of mitophagy, including Parkin and NIX, were up-regulated in response to interleukin-15 (IL-15) for supporting memory T cell formation. Mechanistically, Parkin suppressed VDAC1-dependent apoptosis in memory T cells. In contrast, NIX expression in T cells counteracted ferroptosis by preventing metabolic dysfunction resulting from impaired mitophagy. Together, our results indicate that the mitophagy machinery orchestrates survival and metabolic dynamics required for memory T cell formation, as well as highlight a deficit in T cell-mediated antiviral responses in Parkinson's disease patients.
  4. Cell Chem Biol. 2023 Sep 21. pii: S2451-9456(23)00248-9. [Epub ahead of print]30(9): 1009-1011
      T cells play a key role in driving autoimmunity, with alterations in metabolism powering their effector function. In the July 11 issue of Cell Metabolism, Jenkins et al.1 describe how a type 2 diabetes drug, canagliflozin, can be repurposed for the treatment of autoimmune disorders through metabolic reprogramming of the T cell response.
  5. Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2023 Sep 21.
      Tumor-infiltrating T cells are promising drug targets to modulate the tumor microenvironment. However, tumor-infiltrating T lymphocytes, as central targets of cancer immunotherapy, show considerable heterogeneity and dynamics across tumor microenvironments and cancer types that may fundamentally influence cancer growth, metastasis, relapse, and response to clinical drugs. The T cell heterogeneity not only refers to the composition of subpopulations but also divergent metabolic states of T cells. Comparing to the diversity of tumor-infiltrating T cell compositions that have been well recognized, the metabolic diversity of T cells deserves more attention for precision immunotherapy. Single-cell sequencing technology enables panoramic stitching of the tumor bulk, partly by showing the metabolic-related gene expression profiles of tumor-infiltrating T cells at a single-cell resolution. Therefore, we here discuss T cell metabolism reprogramming triggered by tumor microenvironment as well as the potential application of metabolic targeting drugs. The tumor-infiltrating T cells metabolic pathway addictions among different cancer types are also addressed in this brief review.
    Keywords:  Cancer metabolism; Single-cell sequencing; T cell metabolism; Tumor microenvironment; Tumor-infiltrating T cell
  6. Cell Chem Biol. 2023 Aug 31. pii: S2451-9456(23)00280-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitochondrial biogenesis initiates within hours of T cell receptor (TCR) engagement and is critical for T cell activation, function, and survival; yet, how metabolic programs support mitochondrial biogenesis during TCR signaling is not fully understood. Here, we performed a multiplexed metabolic chemical screen in CD4+ T lymphocytes to identify modulators of metabolism that impact mitochondrial mass during early T cell activation. Treatment of T cells with pyrvinium pamoate early during their activation blocks an increase in mitochondrial mass and results in reduced proliferation, skewed CD4+ T cell differentiation, and reduced cytokine production. Furthermore, administration of pyrvinium pamoate at the time of induction of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, an experimental model of multiple sclerosis in mice, prevented the onset of clinical disease. Thus, modulation of mitochondrial biogenesis may provide a therapeutic strategy for modulating T cell immune responses.
    Keywords:  CD4(+) T cells; T cell differentiation; high-throughput metabolic screen; mitochondrial biogenesis; pyruvate oxidation; pyrvinium pamoate
  7. Nature. 2023 Sep 20.
      CD8+ T cells are essential components of the immune response against viral infections and tumours, and are capable of eliminating infected and cancerous cells. However, when the antigen cannot be cleared, T cells enter a state known as exhaustion1. Although it is clear that chronic antigen contributes to CD8+ T cell exhaustion, less is known about how stress responses in tissues regulate T cell function. Here we show a new link between the stress-associated catecholamines and the progression of T cell exhaustion through the β1-adrenergic receptor ADRB1. We identify that exhausted CD8+ T cells increase ADRB1 expression and that exposure of ADRB1+ T cells to catecholamines suppresses their cytokine production and proliferation. Exhausted CD8+ T cells cluster around sympathetic nerves in an ADRB1-dependent manner. Ablation of β1-adrenergic signalling limits the progression of T cells towards the exhausted state in chronic infection and improves effector functions when combined with immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) in melanoma. In a pancreatic cancer model resistant to ICB, β-blockers and ICB synergize to boost CD8+ T cell responses and induce the development of tissue-resident memory-like T cells. Malignant disease is associated with increased catecholamine levels in patients2,3, and our results establish a connection between the sympathetic stress response, tissue innervation and T cell exhaustion. Here, we uncover a new mechanism by which blocking β-adrenergic signalling in CD8+ T cells rejuvenates anti-tumour functions.
  8. Free Radic Biol Med. 2023 Sep 20. pii: S0891-5849(23)00643-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Aging is a complex biological process characterized by a progressive decline in cellular and tissue function, ultimately leading to organismal aging. Stem cells, with their regenerative potential, play a crucial role in maintaining tissue homeostasis and repair throughout an organism's lifespan. Mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell, have emerged as key players in the aging process, impacting stem cell function and contributing to age-related tissue dysfunction. Here are discuss the mechanisms through which mitochondria influence stem cell fate decisions, including energy production, metabolic regulation, ROS signalling, and epigenetic modifications. Therefore, this review highlights the role of mitochondria in driving stem cell senescence and the subsequent impact on tissue function, leading to overall organismal aging and age-related diseases. Finally, we explore potential anti-aging therapies targeting mitochondrial health and discuss their implications for promoting healthy aging. This comprehensive review sheds light on the critical interplay between mitochondrial function, stem cell senescence, and organismal aging, offering insights into potential strategies for attenuating age-related decline and promoting healthy longevity.
    Keywords:  Aging; Anti-aging therapies; Mitochondria; Senescence; Stem cells
  9. Nat Cancer. 2023 Sep 18.
      Acetate metabolism is an important metabolic pathway in many cancers and is controlled by acetyl-CoA synthetase 2 (ACSS2), an enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of acetate to acetyl-CoA. While the metabolic role of ACSS2 in cancer is well described, the consequences of blocking tumor acetate metabolism on the tumor microenvironment and antitumor immunity are unknown. We demonstrate that blocking ACSS2, switches cancer cells from acetate consumers to producers of acetate thereby freeing acetate for tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes to use as a fuel source. We show that acetate supplementation metabolically bolsters T-cell effector functions and proliferation. Targeting ACSS2 with CRISPR-Cas9 guides or a small-molecule inhibitor promotes an antitumor immune response and enhances the efficacy of chemotherapy in preclinical breast cancer models. We propose a paradigm for targeting acetate metabolism in cancer in which inhibition of ACSS2 dually acts to impair tumor cell metabolism and potentiate antitumor immunity.
  10. Sci Immunol. 2023 Sep 29. 8(87): eabq2424
      Metabolic fitness of T cells is essential for their vitality, which is largely dependent on the behavior of the mitochondria. The nature of mitochondrial behavior in tumor-infiltrating T cells remains poorly understood. In this study, we show that mitofusin-2 (MFN2) expression is positively correlated with the prognosis of multiple cancers. Genetic ablation of Mfn2 in CD8+ T cells dampens mitochondrial metabolism and function and promotes tumor progression. In tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells, MFN2 enhances mitochondria-endoplasmic reticulum (ER) contact by interacting with ER-embedded Ca2+-ATPase SERCA2, facilitating the mitochondrial Ca2+ influx required for efficient mitochondrial metabolism. MFN2 stimulates the ER Ca2+ retrieval activity of SERCA2, thereby preventing excessive mitochondrial Ca2+ accumulation and apoptosis. Elevating mitochondria-ER contact by increasing MFN2 in CD8+ T cells improves the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy. Thus, we reveal a tethering-and-buffering mechanism of organelle cross-talk that regulates the metabolic fitness of tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells and highlights the therapeutic potential of enhancing MFN2 expression to optimize T cell function.
  11. Nat Commun. 2023 Sep 22. 14(1): 5869
      Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) is a severe complication of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation driven by activated allogeneic T cells. Here, we identify a distinct subset of T cell factor-1 (TCF1)+ CD8+ T cells in mouse allogeneic and xenogeneic transplant models of acute GvHD. These TCF1+ cells exhibit distinct characteristics compared to TCF1- cells, including lower expression of inhibitory receptors and higher expression of costimulatory molecules. Notably, the TCF1+ subset displays exclusive proliferative potential and could differentiate into TCF1- effector cells upon antigenic stimulation. Pathway analyses support the role of TCF1+ and TCF1- subsets as resource cells and effector cells, respectively. Furthermore, the TCF1+ CD8+ T cell subset is primarily present in the spleen and exhibits a resident phenotype. These findings provide insight into the differentiation of allogeneic and xenogeneic CD8+ T cells and have implications for the development of immunotherapeutic strategies targeting acute GvHD.
  12. Front Immunol. 2023 ;14 1282656
    Keywords:  Smad4; T cell differentiation; T cells; TGF-beta; exhaustion; tissue residency
  13. Semin Immunol. 2023 Sep 18. pii: S1044-5323(23)00131-8. [Epub ahead of print]70 101840
      Population aging, a pervasive global demographic trend, is anticipated to challenge health and social systems worldwide. This phenomenon is due to medical advancements enabling longer lifespans, with 20% of the US population soon to be over 65 years old. Consequently, there will be a surge in age-related diseases. Senescence, characterized by the loss of biological maintenance and homeostasis at molecular and cellular levels, either correlates with or directly causes age-related phenotypic changes. Decline of the immune system is a critical factor in the senescence process, with cancer being a primary cause of death in elderly populations. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, an innovative approach, has demonstrated success mainly in pediatric and young adult hematological malignancies but remains largely ineffective for diseases affecting older populations, such as late-in-life B cell malignancies and most solid tumor indications. This limitation arises because CAR T cell efficacy heavily relies on the fitness of the patient-derived starting T cell material. Numerous studies suggest that T cell senescence may be a key driver of CAR T cell deficiency. This review examines correlates and underlying factors associated with favorable CAR T cell outcomes and explores potential experimental and clinically actionable strategies for T cell rejuvenation.
    Keywords:  Aging; CAR T cell therapy; Immunosenescence; T cell fitness; T cell rejuvenation
  14. Life Sci Alliance. 2023 Dec;pii: e202302156. [Epub ahead of print]6(12):
      Themis is important in regulating positive selection of thymocytes during T cell development, but its role in peripheral T cells is less understood. Here, we investigated T cell activation and its sequelae using a tamoxifen-mediated, acute Themis deletion mouse model. We find that proliferation, effector functions including anti-tumor killing, and up-regulation of energy metabolism are severely compromised. This study reveals the phenomenon of peripheral adaptation to loss of Themis, by demonstrating direct TCR-induced defects after acute deletion of Themis that were not evident in peripheral T cells chronically deprived of Themis in dLck-Cre deletion model. Peripheral adaptation to long-term loss was compared using chronic versus acute tamoxifen-mediated deletion and with the (chronic) dLck-Cre deletion model. We found that upon chronic tamoxifen-mediated Themis deletion, there was modulation in the gene expression profile for both TCR and cytokine signaling pathways. This profile overlapped with (chronic) dLck-Cre deletion model. Hence, we found that peripheral adaptation induced changes to both TCR and cytokine signaling modules. Our data highlight the importance of Themis in the activation of CD8+ T cells.
  15. Cell Rep Med. 2023 09 19. pii: S2666-3791(23)00316-6. [Epub ahead of print]4(9): 101163
      Metabolic reprogramming of CD4 T cells has become an opportunity for adjunctive therapies. Here, Han et al. show that boosting NAD+ blunts systemic Th17 responses and increases antioxidant pathways through arginine and fumarate-mediated activation of NRF2 transcription factor.
  16. Zhong Nan Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue Ban. 2023 Jul 28. pii: 1672-7347(2023)07-1098-07. [Epub ahead of print]48(7): 1098-1104
      Stem cell-like memory T (TSCM) cell is a memory T cell subset with characteristics of long life span, consistent self-renewing, and the multipotent capacity to reconstitute the memory and effector T cell subsets. TSCM cell is the least differentiated cell in the memory T lymphocyte system, endowed with the stem cell-like ability, and it is essential for maintaining functional immunity. In addition, owing to its robust potential for immune reconstitution, it is central player in many physiological and pathological human processes. TSCM cell plays an important role in the occurrence and development of various autoimmune diseases. The specific role of TSCM cell in autoimmune diseases may make it a potential target for the treatment of multiple autoimmune diseases, driving effective immune reconstitution in therapy.
    Keywords:  autoimmune diseases; cell differentiation; immunotherapy; stem cell-like memory T cell
  17. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2023 Sep 21.
      PURPOSE: Chemotherapeutic agents exert immunomodulatory effects on triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells and immune cells. Eribulin favorably affects the immunological status of patients with breast cancer. However, the effects of eribulin on the immune cells remain unexplored. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of eribulin on immune cells.METHODS: Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from healthy donors and mouse splenocytes were stimulated with anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 antibodies. The effects of eribulin and paclitaxel on cell proliferation and differentiation status were analyzed using flow cytometry. RNA sequencing was performed to assess alterations in gene expression in CD8+ T cells following eribulin and paclitaxel treatment. Using TNBC cell lines (MDA-MB-231, Hs578T, and MDA-MB-157), the anti-tumor activity of CD3/CD28-stimulated T cells combined with eribulin or paclitaxel was evaluated.
    RESULTS: Eribulin did not affect CD3/CD28-stimulated PBMCs proliferation. However, eribulin significantly decreased the CD4/CD8 ratio in T cells, indicating that eribulin facilitates CD8+ T cell proliferation. Furthermore, eribulin significantly increased the frequency of less differentiated CD45RA+, CCR7+, and TCF1+ subsets of CD8+ T cells. RNA sequencing revealed that eribulin enhanced the expression of gene sets related to cell proliferation and immune responses. Moreover, eribulin augmented the anti-tumor effects of CD3/CD28-stimulated T cells against TNBC cells. These results were not observed in experiments using paclitaxel.
    CONCLUSIONS: Eribulin promoted CD8+ T cell proliferation, repressed effector T cell differentiation, and harnessed T cell-mediated anti-tumor effects. These mechanisms may be one of the cues that eribulin can improve the immunological status of tumor-bearing hosts.
    Keywords:  CD8+ T cell; Eribulin; T cell differentiation; Triple-negative breast cancer
  18. Sci Rep. 2023 Sep 22. 13(1): 15779
      Studies over the last 100 years have suggested a link between inflammation, infectious disease, and Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Understanding how the immune system changes during the development of AD may facilitate new treatments. Here, we studied an aging cohort who had been assessed for AD pathology with amyloid positron emission tomography and cognitive testing, and conducted high dimensional flow cytometry on peripheral blood mononuclear and cerebrospinal fluid cells. Participants were assigned a classification of being amyloid negative cognitively normal, amyloid positive cognitively normal (APCN), or amyloid positive mild cognitive impairment (APMCI), an early stage of AD. We observed major alterations in the peripheral innate immune system including increased myeloid and plasmacytoid dendritic cells in the blood of APMCI participants. When the adaptive immune system was examined, amyloid positive participants, regardless of cognitive status, had increased CD3+ T cells. Further analyses of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells revealed that APMCI participants had an increase in more differentiated phenotype T cells, such as effector memory and effector memory CD45RA expressing (TEMRA), compared to those with normal cognition. When T cell function was measured, we observed that T cells from APCN participants had increased IFNγ+GzB- producing cells compared to the other participants. In contrast, we demonstrate that APMCI participants had a major increase in T cells that lacked cytokine production following restimulation and expressed increased levels of PD-1 and Tox, suggesting these are exhausted cells. Rejuvenation of these cells may provide a potential treatment for AD.
  19. Semin Immunol. 2023 Sep 14. pii: S1044-5323(23)00130-6. [Epub ahead of print]70 101839
      It is well-known that the functioning of the immune system gradually deteriorates with age, and we are increasingly confronted with its consequences as the life expectancy of the human population increases. Changes in the T-cell pool are among the most prominent features of the changing immune system during healthy ageing, and changes in the naive T-cell pool in particular are generally held responsible for its gradual deterioration. These changes in the naive T-cell pool are thought to be due to involution of the thymus. It is commonly believed that the gradual loss of thymic output induces compensatory mechanisms to maintain the number of naive T cells at a relatively constant level, and induces a loss of diversity in the T-cell repertoire. Here we review the studies that support or challenge this widely-held view of immune ageing and discuss the implications for vaccination strategies.
    Keywords:  Healthy ageing; Homeostasis; Naive T cells; TCR repertoire; Thymic involution; Thymus
  20. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2023 Sep 21. pii: glad214. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cellular senescence is a biological aging process that is exacerbated by obesity and leads to inflammation and age- and obesogenic-driven chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes. Caloric restriction (CR) may improve metabolic function in part by reducing cellular senescence and the pro-inflammatory senescence-associated phenotype (SASP). We conducted an ancillary investigation of an 18-week randomized controlled trial (RCT) of CR (n=31) or Control (n=27) in 58 middle-aged/older adults (57.6±5.8 years; 75% Women) with obesity and prediabetes. We measured mRNA expression of select senescence and apoptosis genes in blood CD3+ T-cells (qRT-PCR) and a panel of 25 plasma SASP proteins (Luminex/multiplex; ELISA). Participants randomized to CR lost -10.8±0.9 kg (-11.3±5.4%) over 18-weeks compared with +0.5±0.9 kg (+0.03±3.5%) in Control group. T-cell expression of senescence-biomarkers p16 INK4a and p21 CIP1/WAF1, and apoptosis markers BCL2L1 and BAK1 was not different between CR and Control groups in age, race, and sex adjusted mixed models (p>0.05, all). Iterative principal axis factor analysis was used to develop composite SASP Factors, and the Factor comprised of TNFRI, TNFRII, uPAR, MMP1, GDF15, OPN, Fas, and MPO was significantly altered with CR intervention (age, sex, race adjusted mixed model time × treatment F = 4.17, p≤0.05) and associated with degree of weight loss (R 2 =0.12, p≤0.05). Our study provides evidence from an RCT that specific circulating biomarkers of senescent cell burden are changed by CR in middle-aged and older adults with obesity and prediabetes. Future studies compare tissue and circulating levels of p16 INK4a and pro-inflammatory SASP biomarkers in other populations, and interventions.
    Keywords:  aging; biomarkers; cell senescence; dietary restriction; inflammation; prediabetes
  21. Nat Biotechnol. 2023 Sep 21.
      Factor analysis decomposes single-cell gene expression data into a minimal set of gene programs that correspond to processes executed by cells in a sample. However, matrix factorization methods are prone to technical artifacts and poor factor interpretability. We address these concerns with Spectra, an algorithm that combines user-provided gene programs with the detection of novel programs that together best explain expression covariation. Spectra incorporates existing gene sets and cell-type labels as prior biological information, explicitly models cell type and represents input gene sets as a gene-gene knowledge graph using a penalty function to guide factorization toward the input graph. We show that Spectra outperforms existing approaches in challenging tumor immune contexts, as it finds factors that change under immune checkpoint therapy, disentangles the highly correlated features of CD8+ T cell tumor reactivity and exhaustion, finds a program that explains continuous macrophage state changes under therapy and identifies cell-type-specific immune metabolic programs.
  22. Cancer Cell. 2023 Sep 19. pii: S1535-6108(23)00306-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      Unlike many other hematologic malignancies, Richter syndrome (RS), an aggressive B cell lymphoma originating from indolent chronic lymphocytic leukemia, is responsive to PD-1 blockade. To discover the determinants of response, we analyze single-cell transcriptome data generated from 17 bone marrow samples longitudinally collected from 6 patients with RS. Response is associated with intermediate exhausted CD8 effector/effector memory T cells marked by high expression of the transcription factor ZNF683, determined to be evolving from stem-like memory cells and divergent from terminally exhausted cells. This signature overlaps with that of tumor-infiltrating populations from anti-PD-1 responsive solid tumors. ZNF683 is found to directly target key T cell genes (TCF7, LMO2, CD69) and impact pathways of T cell cytotoxicity and activation. Analysis of pre-treatment peripheral blood from 10 independent patients with RS treated with anti-PD-1, as well as patients with solid tumors treated with anti-PD-1, supports an association of ZNF683high T cells with response.
    Keywords:  Hobit; PD-1; Richter transformation; ZNF683; checkpoint blockade; chronic lymphocytic leukemia; immunotherapy; single-cell RNA sequencing; t cells; tox