Different contribution of EBV and CMV infections in very long-term carriers to age-related alterations of CD8+ T cells

Rosanna Vescovini, Annarita Telera, Francesco F. Fagnoni, Claudia Biasini, Maria Cristina Medici, Pierpaolo Valcavi, Patricia Di Pede, Gianluca Lucchini, Luca Zanlari, Giovanni Passeri, Franco Zanni, Carlo Chezzi, Claudio Franceschi, Paolo Sansoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aging is accompanied by a complex dynamics of CD8+ T cell subsets whose origin is unclear. To evaluate the impact of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) chronic infections on CD8+ T cells in far advanced age, we studied CD8+ T cells frequencies and phenotype in nonagenarians and centenarians by HLA-A*0201- and HLA-B*0702- tetramers incorporating epitopes specific of both viruses along with viral replication. The results demonstrate that EBV and CMV infections induce quantitatively and qualitatively different CD8+ T-cell responses in advanced aging. The frequency and absolute number of CD8+ T cells specific for one lytic and two latent EBV-epitopes, were relatively low and mostly included within CD8+ CD28+ cells. By contrast, CMV infection was characterized by highly variable numbers of CD8+ T cells specific for two differently restricted CMV-epitopes that, in some subjects, were strikingly expanded. Moreover, the great majority of anti-CMV CD8+ T cells did not bear CD28 antigen. Notwithstanding the expansion of CMV-specific CD8+ lymphocytes, CMV-DNA detection in blood samples was invariably negative. Altogether, we suggest that CMV, but not EBV, can sustain chronic activation of the HLA-class I restricted effector arm in elderly that might have detrimental effects on age-associated diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1233-1243
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Gerontology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2004


  • Aging
  • CD8 T cells
  • CMV
  • EBV
  • HLA-tetramers
  • Immunosenescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Medicine(all)


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