Influenza A virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte activity declines with advancing age

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1993 Jan;41(1):1-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1993.tb05938.x.


Objective: To investigate whether influenza A-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) activity is reduced in elderly compared with younger adults.

Design: Case series comparing outcomes in young and elderly cohorts.

Setting: Saint Louis University Division of Geriatric Medicine.

Participants: Healthy adult outpatients and staff members aged < 50 (young) or > or = 65 (elderly) years.

Methods: Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were assayed for CTL activity by a 51chromium release assay following 1 week of in vitro stimulation with influenza A/PR/8/34 (H1N1) virus.

Measurements: Percent specific lysis of autologous and allogeneic influenza virus-infected target cells.

Main results: Specific lysis of autologous A/PR-infected targets was significantly lower in elderly compared to young subjects (P < 0.01), and exceeded 10% in a significantly lower proportion of elderly compared with younger subjects (P < 0.05), but was not influenced by a history of vaccination within the preceding 12 months. Cytotoxic effectors were class I human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-restricted and displayed heterosubtypic cross-reactivity but were unable to lyse influenza B-infected targets.

Conclusions: These results demonstrate an age-related decline of influenza A virus-specific CTL activity and suggest that CTL responses to inactivated virus vaccine are of short duration.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / immunology*
  • Biological Assay
  • Cross Reactions
  • Cytotoxicity Tests, Immunologic
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic / immunology*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Histocompatibility Testing
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory / immunology
  • Influenza A virus / classification
  • Influenza A virus / immunology*
  • Influenza B virus / immunology
  • Middle Aged
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*