In an immune response, CD4(+) T cells expand into effector T cells and then contract to survive as long-lived memory cells. To identify age-associated defects in memory cell formation, we profiled activated CD4(+) T cells and found an increased induction of the ATPase CD39 with age. CD39(+) CD4(+) T cells resembled effector T cells with signs of metabolic stress and high susceptibility to undergo apoptosis. Pharmacological inhibition of ATPase activity dampened effector cell differentiation and improved survival, suggesting that CD39 activity influences T cell fate. Individuals carrying a low-expressing CD39 variant responded better to vaccination with an increase in vaccine-specific memory T cells. Increased inducibility of CD39 after activation may contribute to the impaired vaccine response with age.
Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.