T cells with dysfunctional mitochondria induce multimorbidity and premature senescence

Journal: Science

Published: 2020-06-19

DOI: 10.1126/science.aax0860

Affiliations: 13

Authors: 18

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Research Highlight

Immune cells may hasten ageing

© MedicalRF.com/Getty Images

© MedicalRF.com/Getty Images

Young mice that have dysfunctional mitochondria in their T cells exhibit tell-tale signs of premature ageing.

As we age, our immune systems tend to become less effective in staving off pathogens. But they also can cause a chronic, low-grade overactivation of the immune system, appropriately named inflammaging, that exacts a toll on healthy cells and tissues.

Now, a team led by researchers at the Spanish National Research Council has found that seven-month-old mice engineered to lack a key protein in the mitochondria of their T cells exhibited symptoms reminiscent of inflammaging. These included impairments to their metabolism, memory, muscles and cardiovascular system.

The disruption to mitochondria caused the T cells to become highly inflammatory, so that they spewed out chemicals that cause cells to stop dividing and growing.

This implies that the immune system plays a role in accelerating ageing — a finding that could help with the development of future therapies for ageing-related conditions.

Supported content

  1. Science 368, 1371–1376 (2020). doi: 10.1126/science.aax0860
Institutions Share
Severo Ochoa Centre for Molecular Biology (CBMSO), Spain 0.36
Instituto de Investigación Hospital 12 de Octubre (i+12), Spain 0.22
Hospital Universitario de La Princesa, Spain 0.08
San Pablo CEU University (USPCEU), Spain 0.06
Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics (MPI-IE), Germany 0.06
Spanish National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC), Spain 0.05
Charles III University of Madrid (UC3M), Spain 0.03
Investigación Sanitaria del Hospital Gregorio Marañón (IISGM), Spain 0.03
Biomedical Research Networking Center for Mental Health Network (CIBERSAM), Spain 0.03
IMDEA Food Institute, Spain 0.03
Campus of International Excellence (CEI) UAM-CSIC, Spain 0.03
Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM), Spain 0.02
Biomedical Research Networking Centers (CIBER), Spain 0.02