Naïve and memory CD8 T cell pool homeostasis in advanced aging: Impact of age and of antigen-specific responses to cytomegalovirus

Rosanna Vescovini, Francesco Fausto Fagnoni, Anna Rita Telera, Laura Bucci, Mario Pedrazzoni, Francesca Magalini, Adriano Stella, Federico Pasin, Maria Cristina Medici, Adriana Calderaro, Riccardo Volpi, Daniela Monti, Claudio Franceschi, Janko Nikolich-Žugich, Paolo Sansoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alterations in the circulating CD8+ T cell pool, with a loss of naïve and accumulation of effector/effector memory cells, are pronounced in older adults. However, homeostatic forces that dictate such changes remain incompletely understood. This observational cross-sectional study explored the basis for variability of CD8+ T cell number and composition of its main subsets: naïve, central memory and effector memory T cells, in 131 cytomegalovirus (CMV) seropositive subjects aged over 60 years. We found great heterogeneity of CD8+ T cell numbers, which was mainly due to variability of the CD8∈+∈CD28- T cell subset regardless of age. Analysis, by multiple regression, of distinct factors revealed that age was a predictor for the loss in absolute number of naïve T cells, but was not associated with changes in central or effector memory CD8+ T cell subsets. By contrast, the size of CD8+ T cells specific to pp65 and IE-1 antigens of CMV, predicted CD28∈- ∈CD8+ T cell, antigen-experienced CD8+ T cell, and even total CD8+ T cell numbers, but not naïve CD8+ T cell loss. These results indicate a clear dichotomy between the homeostasis of naïve and antigen-experienced subsets of CD8+ T cells which are independently affected, in human later life, by age and antigen-specific responses to CMV, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-640
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Age
  • Aging
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Homeostasis
  • Memory CD8 T cell
  • Naïve CD8 T cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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