Research Papers: Gerotarget (Focus on Aging):

Vδ2+ and α/β T cells show divergent trajectories during human aging

Crystal Tze Ying Tan, Kilian Wistuba-Hamprecht, Weili Xu, Ma Schwe Zin Nyunt, Anusha Vasudev, Bernett Teck Kwong Lee, Graham Pawelec, Kia Joo Puan, Olaf Rotzschke, Tze Pin Ng and Anis Larbi _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:44906-44918. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.10096

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Crystal Tze Ying Tan1, Kilian Wistuba-Hamprecht2,3, Weili Xu1,4, Ma Schwe Zin Nyunt5, Anusha Vasudev1, Bernett Teck Kwong Lee1, Graham Pawelec2, Kia Joo Puan1, Olaf Rotzschke1, Tze Pin Ng5 and Anis Larbi1,4,6

1 Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN), Agency for Science Technology and Research (A*STAR), Biopolis, Singapore

2 Department of Internal Medicine II, Centre for Medical Research, University Medical Center, Tübingen, Germany

3 Department of Dermatology, University Medical Center, Tübingen, Germany

4 School of Biological Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

5 Gerontology Research Programme, Department of Psychological Medicine, National University Health System, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore

6 Department of Microbiology, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Correspondence to:

Anis Larbi, email:

Keywords: unconventional T cells, immunosenescence, phenotype, aging, Gerotarget

Received: December 11, 2015 Accepted: May 29, 2016 Published: June 15, 2016


Chronological aging and a variety of stressors are driving forces towards immunosenescence. While much attention was paid to the main T cell component, α/β T cells, few studies concentrate on the impact of age on γ/δ T cells’ characteristics. The latter are important players of adaptive immunity but also have features associated with innate immunity. Vδ2+ are the main component of γ/δ while Vδ1+ T cells expand upon Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and with age. The Vδ2+ T cells are not influenced by persistent infections but do contribute to immunosurveillance against bacterial pathogens. Here, we focus on Vδ2+ T cells and report that their composition and functionality is not altered in older adults. We have performed a side-by-side comparison of α/β and Vδ2 cells by using two robust markers of T cell replicative history and cell differentiation (CD28 and CD27), and cytokine secretion (IFN-γ and TNF-α). Significant differences in Vδ2 versus α/β homeostasis, as well as phenotypic and functional changes emerged. However, the data strongly suggest a sustained functionality of the Vδ2 population with age, independently of the challenge. This suggests differential trajectories towards immunosenescence in α/β and Vδ2+ T cells, most likely explained by their intrinsic functions.

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