Mitochondrial phenotypes in purified human immune cell subtypes and cell mixtures

Elife. 2021 Oct 26;10:e70899. doi: 10.7554/eLife.70899.


Using a high-throughput mitochondrial phenotyping platform to quantify multiple mitochondrial features among molecularly defined immune cell subtypes, we quantify the natural variation in mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtDNAcn), citrate synthase, and respiratory chain enzymatic activities in human neutrophils, monocytes, B cells, and naïve and memory T lymphocyte subtypes. In mixed peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from the same individuals, we show to what extent mitochondrial measures are confounded by both cell type distributions and contaminating platelets. Cell subtype-specific measures among women and men spanning four decades of life indicate potential age- and sex-related differences, including an age-related elevation in mtDNAcn, which are masked or blunted in mixed PBMCs. Finally, a proof-of-concept, repeated-measures study in a single individual validates cell type differences and also reveals week-to-week changes in mitochondrial activities. Larger studies are required to validate and mechanistically extend these findings. These mitochondrial phenotyping data build upon established immunometabolic differences among leukocyte subpopulations, and provide foundational quantitative knowledge to develop interpretable blood-based assays of mitochondrial health.

Keywords: aging; cell biology; dynamic variation; human; immunology; immunometabolism; inflammation; leukocytes; mitochondria; mitotypes; sexual dimorphism.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / physiology*
  • Male
  • Memory T Cells / immunology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Monocytes / immunology*
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Phenotype*
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult