Effect of age and latent CMV infection on CD8+ CD56+ T cells (NKT-like) frequency and functionality

Mech Ageing Dev. 2016 Sep:158:38-45. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2015.12.003. Epub 2016 Jan 2.


Changes in the T cell pool caused by CMV infection have been proposed to contribute to immunosenescence, but it has been postulated that CMV can also have some beneficial effects in young individuals improving the immune response to other pathogens. T cells expressing CD56 (NKT-like cells) are cytotoxic effector cells with a significant role in the immune response against cancer. We have studied how age and latent CMV infection affect the frequency of NKT-like cells (CD8+ CD56+ T cells) and their response to Staphylococcal Enterotoxin B (SEB) in the context of CMV and ageing. NKT-like cell percentage increases with the combination of both CMV and age. The response to SEB and the polyfunctional index of NKT-like cells also increase with age in CMV-seropositive individuals. In young individuals, CMV infection induces a shift on the polyfunctional profile of CD8+ CD56- T cells not observed on the NKT-like cells response. NKT-like cells expressing CD57 are expanded in CMV-seropositive individuals and are more polyfunctional than their CD57- counterpart. In addition CD57- NKT-like cells are more polyfunctional than CD8+ CD56- CD57- T cells. The results support that the expansion of polyfunctional NKT-cells may have a beneficial effect on the immune response against pathogens.

Keywords: Ageing; CD57; CD8+ CD56+ NKT-like cells; CMV; Polyfunctionality.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging / immunology*
  • Aging / pathology
  • CD56 Antigen / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Cytomegalovirus / immunology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / immunology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / pathology
  • Enterotoxins / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Natural Killer T-Cells / immunology*
  • Natural Killer T-Cells / pathology


  • CD56 Antigen
  • Enterotoxins
  • NCAM1 protein, human
  • enterotoxin B, staphylococcal