T cell homeostasis in centenarians: From the thymus to the periphery

M. Pinti, M. Nasi, E. Lugli, L. Gibellini, L. Bertoncelli, E. Roat, S. De Biasi, C. Mussini, A. Cossarizza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The immune system undergoes a process of profound remodelling during aging, referred to as immunosenescence, and characterized by complex modifications of several components. In this review, we discuss recent developments and observations regarding the generation of T cells in the thymus during aging and longevity, and the regulation and maintenance of peripheral blood lymphocytes. The generation of new T cells is indeed crucial to maintain a functional immune system, and is a fundamental step to avoid unsuccessful aging, thus reaching longevity in good health. Mechanisms will be described that are related to the production and maintenance of those lymphocytes defined "recent thymic emigrants", and to the detection of the so called "T cell receptor rearrangement excision circles (TREC)", along with the presence in the periphery of naïve and memory T cells, that can be influenced and regulated by several different mechanisms. Several strategies aimed at improving thymic functionality are currently receiving a growing interest, and some of them are based on molecules that are produced by, and/or act on immune cells. Data on the possible use of these molecules, including cytokines like interleukin (IL)-7, IL-15 and keratinocyte growth factor, to restore thymic function are reviewed and discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-603
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Pharmaceutical Design
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Aging
  • IL-7
  • Longevity
  • sjTREC
  • T cell
  • Thymus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology
  • Medicine(all)


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