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Increased T cell immunosenescence and accelerated maturation phenotypes in older kidney transplant recipients


Older kidney transplant recipients experience increased rates of infection and death, and less rejection, compared with younger patients. However, little is known about immune dysfunction in older compared with younger kidney transplant recipients and whether it is associated with infection. We evaluated T cell phenotypes including maturation, immune senescence, and exhaustion in a novel investigation into differences in older compared with younger patients receiving identical immune suppression regimens. We evaluated PBMC from 60 kidney transplant recipients (23 older and 37 matched younger patients) by multiparameter immune phenotyping. Older kidney transplant recipients demonstrated decreased frequency of naïve CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, and increased frequency of terminally differentiated, immune senescent, and NK T cells expressing KLRG1. There was a trend towards increased frequency of T cell immune senescence in patients experiencing infection in the first year after transplantation, which reached statistical significance in a multivariate analysis. This pilot study reveals immune dysfunction in older compared with younger transplant recipients, and suggests a likely mechanism for increased vulnerability to infection. The ability to assess T cell maturation and immune senescence in transplant recipients offers the potential for risk stratification and customization of immune suppression to prevent infection and rejection after transplantation.

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