Synergisms between different activation pathways in adult and aged human lymphocytes

M. O. Borghi, W. Barcellini, G. Ferraro, A. Vismara, P. L. Meroni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present report investigates the synergistic effects of different agents (phytohaemagglutinin (PHA), anti-CD3, phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate (PMA) and Ionomycin) on T cell activation. Results indicate that in normal lymphocytes PMA causes a dose-dependent decrease of PHA-induced blastogenesis and a marked enhancement of anti-CD3-induced 3H-thymidine uptake. There is positive synergism when cells are costimulated with PMA and the calcium ionophore Ionomycin. These data show that phorbol esters can exert either positive or negative synergisms depending on the experimental conditions. We also studied the simultaneous stimulation with PHA and anti-CD3 which gives an addictive effect for the minimal doses of the two stimuli, and an appreciable negative synergism for their highest concentrations. In order to evaluate T lymphocyte function in the age-associated immune defect, PHA plus anti-CD3 and PMA plus Ionomycin costimulation assays were applied to a population of healthy elderly subjects. An additive effect is found after costimulation with the highest doses of PHA and anti CD3, at variance with the negative synergism found in younger adult controls. Following costimulation with PMA plus Ionomycin, elderly subjects also display an impaired response, as compared to adult controls. No correlation was found with PHA-, anti-CD3- and PMA plus Ionomycin-induced T cell proliferation. These results underline the complexity of age-associated immune defects and suggest that alterations in different mechanisms of lymphocyte activation are responsible for the immune deficiency of aging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-139
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical and Laboratory Immunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'Synergisms between different activation pathways in adult and aged human lymphocytes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this