Research Papers: Gerotarget (Focus on Aging):

Changes of peripheral lymphocyte subsets and cytokine environment during aging and deteriorating gastrointestinal tract health status

Jing Wang, Guodong Yang, Dongfang Wang, Kuiliang Liu, Yongchao Ma, Hong Liu, Jing Wu _ and Min Fang

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:60764-60777. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.18485

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Jing Wang1,2,*, Guodong Yang3,*, Dongfang Wang1,2, Kuiliang Liu3, Yongchao Ma1, Hong Liu3, Jing Wu3 and Min Fang1,4

1 CAS Key Laboratory of Pathogenic Microbiology and Immunology, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

3 Beijing Shijitan Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China

4 International College, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

* These authors have contributed equally to this manuscript

Correspondence to:

Jing Wu, email:

Min Fang, email:

Keywords: aging, gastrointestinal tract disease, NK cells, NKT cells, T cells, Gerotarget

Received: December 28, 2016 Accepted: June 04, 2017 Published: June 16, 2017


Human immune senescence accompanies with the physical and physiological frailty. The functional change and shift of NK, NKT and T cell subsets by aging have been widely studied. However, it remains largely unclear how the aging and disease conditions affect the distribution of lymphocytes. In the present study, 233 subjects with age range from 20 to 87 year old, including healthy people, people with chronic gastrointestinal tract disease or cancers were investigated. We found that the proportion of NK cells, CD8+ T cells and NKT cells remained relatively unchanged with aging. However, NKG2D and CD16 expression level on NK cells decreased with aging indicating impaired NK cell function. Surprisingly, the proportion of NK, NKT and T cells all declined with deteriorating health status from health to chronic gastrointestinal tract disease and cancer. Furthermore, cytokine and chemokine profiles changed with aging, but did not vary with different health status. Our results highlight new evidence for a continuum of change during immunologic aging and show unique data for variations of NK cells, CD8+ T cells, NKT cells, and cytokine microenvironment with human aging and health status transformation.

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