Aging of the immune system contributes to the increased morbidity and mortality of the elderly population and may occur prematurely in patients with immune disorders. One of the main characteristics of immunosenescence is the expansion of CD4(+)CD28(-) T cells in the blood. These cells are effector memory T cells with cytotoxic capacity, and have been recently described to have pathogenic potential in a variety of immune disorders. Interestingly, CD4(+)CD28(-) T cells have now been found to infiltrate target tissues of patients with multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, myopathies, acute coronary syndromes, and other immune-related diseases. In this review, we discuss potential factors and mechanisms that may induce the expansion of these cells, as well as their putative pathogenic mechanisms in immune disorders.
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