Age-related impairment of humoral response to influenza is associated with changes in antigen specific T follicular helper cell responses

Sci Rep. 2016 Apr 25;6:25051. doi: 10.1038/srep25051.


T follicular helper (TFH) cell responses are essential for generation of protective humoral immunity during influenza infection. Aging has a profound impact on CD4(+) T cell function and humoral immunity, yet the impact of aging on antigen specific TFH responses remains unclear. Influenza specific TFH cells are generated in similar numbers in young and aged animals during infection, but TFH cells from aged mice exhibit significant differences, including reduced expression of ICOS and elevated production of IL-10 and IFNγ, which potentially impairs interaction with cognate B cells. Also, more influenza specific T cells in aged mice have a regulatory phenotype, which could contribute to the impaired TFH function. Adoptive transfer studies with young T cells demonstrated that TGF-β1 in the aged environment can drive increased regulatory T cell accumulation. Aging and the aged environment thus impact antigen specific TFH cell function and formation, which contribute to reduced protective humoral responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adoptive Transfer
  • Age Factors*
  • Animals
  • Antigens
  • B-Lymphocytes
  • Immunity, Humoral / immunology*
  • Inducible T-Cell Co-Stimulator Protein
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype / physiology*
  • Interleukins / immunology*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / virology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / virology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / immunology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / metabolism


  • Antigens
  • Inducible T-Cell Co-Stimulator Protein
  • Interleukins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1