Immunity & Ageing (Aug 2019)

Peripheral antibody concentrations are associated with highly differentiated T cells and inflammatory processes in the human bone marrow

  • Erin Naismith,
  • Luca Pangrazzi,
  • Marco Grasse,
  • Michael Keller,
  • Carina Miggitsch,
  • Birgit Weinberger,
  • Klemens Trieb,
  • Beatrix Grubeck-Loebenstein

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 16, no. 1
pp. 1 – 10


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Abstract Background Antigen-experienced immune cells migrate back to the bone marrow (BM), where they are maintained in BM survival niches for an extended period. The composition of T cell subpopulations in the BM changes with age, leading to an accumulation of highly differentiated T cells and a loss of naïve T cells. While innate immune cells are also affected by age, little is known about interactions between different adaptive immune cell populations maintained in the BM. In this study, the phenotype and function of innate and adaptive immune cells isolated from human BM and peripheral blood (PB) was analysed in detail using flow cytometry, to determine if the accumulation of highly differentiated T and B cells, supported by the BM niches, limits the maintenance of other immune cells, or affects their functions such as providing protective antibody concentrations. Results Total T cells increase in the BM with age, as do highly differentiated CD8+ T cells which no longer express the co-stimulatory molecule CD28, while natural killer T (NKT) cells, monocytes, B cells, and naïve CD8+ T cells all decrease in the BM with age. A negative correlation of total T cells with B cells was observed in the BM. The percentage of B cells in the BM negatively correlated with highly differentiated CD8+CD28− T cells, replicative-senescent CD8+CD57+ T cells, as well as the CD8+CD28−CD57+ population. Similar correlations were seen between B cells and the frequency of highly differentiated T cells producing pro-inflammatory molecules in the BM. Interestingly, plasma concentrations of diphtheria-specific antibodies negatively correlated with highly differentiated CD8+CD57+ T cells as well as with exhausted central memory CD8+ and CD4+ T cells in the BM. A negative impact on diphtheria-specific antibodies was also observed for CD8+ T cells expressing senescence associated genes such as the cell cycle regulator p21 (CDKN1A), KLRG-1, and elevated levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Conclusion Our data suggest that the accumulation and maintenance of highly differentiated, senescent, and exhausted T cells in the BM, particularly in old age, may interfere with the survival of other cell populations resident in the BM such as monocytes and B cells, leading to reduced peripheral diphtheria antibody concentrations as a result. These findings further highlight the importance of the BM in the long-term maintenance of immunological memory.