Metabolic reprogramming of human CD8 + memory T cells through loss of SIRT1

J Exp Med. 2018 Jan 2;215(1):51-62. doi: 10.1084/jem.20161066. Epub 2017 Nov 30.


The expansion of CD8+CD28- T cells, a population of terminally differentiated memory T cells, is one of the most consistent immunological changes in humans during aging. CD8+CD28- T cells are highly cytotoxic, and their frequency is linked to many age-related diseases. As they do not accumulate in mice, many of the molecular mechanisms regulating their fate and function remain unclear. In this paper, we find that human CD8+CD28- T cells, under resting conditions, have an enhanced capacity to use glycolysis, a function linked to decreased expression of the NAD+-dependent protein deacetylase SIRT1. Global gene expression profiling identified the transcription factor FoxO1 as a SIRT1 target involved in transcriptional reprogramming of CD8+CD28- T cells. FoxO1 is proteasomally degraded in SIRT1-deficient CD8+CD28- T cells, and inhibiting its activity in resting CD8+CD28+ T cells enhanced glycolytic capacity and granzyme B production as in CD8+CD28- T cells. These data identify the evolutionarily conserved SIRT1-FoxO1 axis as a regulator of resting CD8+ memory T cell metabolism and activity in humans.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • CD28 Antigens / metabolism
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Energy Metabolism / genetics*
  • Forkhead Box Protein O1 / genetics
  • Forkhead Box Protein O1 / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Sirtuin 1 / deficiency*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • CD28 Antigens
  • FOXO1 protein, human
  • Forkhead Box Protein O1
  • Sirtuin 1