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Concept: Thymus


It is widely accepted that aging is accompanied by remodelling of the immune system including thymic atrophy and increased frequency of senescent T cells, leading to immune compromise. However, physical activity, which influences immunity but declines dramatically with age, is not considered in this literature. We assessed immune profiles in 125 adults (55-79 years) who had maintained a high level of physical activity (cycling) for much of their adult lives, 75 age-matched older adults and 55 young adults not involved in regular exercise. The frequency of naïve T cells and recent thymic emigrants (RTE) were both higher in cyclists compared with inactive elders, and RTE frequency in cyclists was no different to young adults. Compared with their less active counterparts, the cyclists had significantly higher serum levels of the thymoprotective cytokine IL-7 and lower IL-6, which promotes thymic atrophy. Cyclists also showed additional evidence of reduced immunesenescence, namely lower Th17 polarization and higher B regulatory cell frequency than inactive elders. Physical activity did not protect against all aspects of immunesenescence: CD28-veCD57+vesenescent CD8 T-cell frequency did not differ between cyclists and inactive elders. We conclude that many features of immunesenescence may be driven by reduced physical activity with age.

Concepts: Immune system, White blood cell, Antibody, Immunology, Humoral immunity, Immunity, Major histocompatibility complex, Thymus


Sunlight has important biological effects in human skin. Ultraviolet (UV) light striking the epidermis catalyzes the synthesis of Vitamin D and triggers melanin production. Although a causative element in skin cancers, sunlight is also associated with positive health outcomes including reduced incidences of autoimmune diseases and cancers. The mechanisms, however, by which light affects immune function remain unclear. Here we describe direct photon sensing in human and mouse T lymphocytes, a cell-type highly abundant in skin. Blue light irradiation at low doses (<300 mJ cm(-2)) triggers synthesis of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in T cells revealed by the genetically encoded reporter HyPerRed. In turn, H2O2 activates a Src kinase/phospholipase C-γ1 (PLC-γ1) signaling pathway and Ca(2+) mobilization. Pharmacologic inhibition or genetic disruption of Lck kinase, PLC-γ1 or the T cell receptor complex inhibits light-evoked Ca(2+) transients. Notably, both light and H2O2 enhance T-cell motility in a Lck-dependent manner. Thus, T lymphocytes possess intrinsic photosensitivity and this property may enhance their motility in skin.

Concepts: Immune system, Vitamin D, Ultraviolet, T cell, Major histocompatibility complex, T cell receptor, Lck, Thymus


Background In a phase 1 trial, axicabtagene ciloleucel (axi-cel), an autologous anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, showed efficacy in patients with refractory large B-cell lymphoma after the failure of conventional therapy. Methods In this multicenter, phase 2 trial, we enrolled 111 patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma, or transformed follicular lymphoma who had refractory disease despite undergoing recommended prior therapy. Patients received a target dose of 2×106 anti-CD19 CAR T cells per kilogram of body weight after receiving a conditioning regimen of low-dose cyclophosphamide and fludarabine. The primary end point was the rate of objective response (calculated as the combined rates of complete response and partial response). Secondary end points included overall survival, safety, and biomarker assessments. Results Among the 111 patients who were enrolled, axi-cel was successfully manufactured for 110 (99%) and administered to 101 (91%). The objective response rate was 82%, and the complete response rate was 54%.With a median follow-up of 15.4 months, 42% of the patients continued to have a response, with 40% continuing to have a complete response. The overall rate of survival at 18 months was 52%. The most common adverse events of grade 3 or higher during treatment were neutropenia (in 78% of the patients), anemia (in 43%), and thrombocytopenia (in 38%). Grade 3 or higher cytokine release syndrome and neurologic events occurred in 13% and 28% of the patients, respectively. Three of the patients died during treatment. Higher CAR T-cell levels in blood were associated with response. Conclusions In this multicenter study, patients with refractory large B-cell lymphoma who received CAR T-cell therapy with axi-cel had high levels of durable response, with a safety profile that included myelosuppression, the cytokine release syndrome, and neurologic events. (Funded by Kite Pharma and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Therapy Acceleration Program; ZUMA-1 number, NCT02348216 .).

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, Response rate, B cell, Types of cancer, Lymphoma, Thymus, Follicular lymphoma


Murine models showed that CD8+CD44himemory T ™ cells could eradicate malignant cells without inducing graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). We evaluated the feasibility and safety of infusing freshly isolated and purified donor-derived phenotypic CD8+TMcells into adults with disease relapse after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). Phenotypic CD8 TMcells were isolated after unmobilized donor apheresis using a tandem immunomagnetic selection strategy of CD45RA depletion followed by CD8+enrichment. Fifteen patients received CD8+TMcells at escalating doses (1 × 106, 5 × 106, or 10 × 106cells per kg). Thirteen received cytoreduction before CD8+TMcell infusion, and 9 had active disease at the time of infusion. Mean yield and purity of the CD8+TMinfusion were 38.1% and 92.8%, respectively; >90% had CD8+T effector memory phenotype, cytokine expression, and secretion profile. No adverse infusional events or dose-limiting toxicities occurred; GVHD developed in 1 patient (grade 2 liver). Ten patients (67%) maintained or achieved response (7 complete response, 1 partial response, 2 stable disease) for at least 3 months after infusion; 4 of the responders had active disease at the time of infusion. With a median follow-up from infusion of 328 days (range, 118-1328 days), median event-free survival and overall survival were 4.9 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 1-19.3 months) and 19.6 months (95% CI, 5.6 months to not reached), respectively. Collection and enrichment of phenotypic CD8+TMcells is feasible, well tolerated, and associated with a low incidence of GVHD when administered as a manipulated infusion of donor lymphocytes in patients who have relapsed after HCT. This trial was registered at as #NCT01523223.

Concepts: Gene, Cancer, Medical terms, Graft-versus-host disease, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Normal distribution, Thymus, Infusion


Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cells have emerged as a powerful immunotherapy for various forms of cancer and show promise in treating HIV-1 infection. However, significant limitations are persistence and whether peripheral T cell-based products can respond to malignant or infected cells that may reappear months or years after treatment remains unclear. Hematopoietic Stem/Progenitor Cells (HSPCs) are capable of long-term engraftment and have the potential to overcome these limitations. Here, we report the use of a protective CD4 chimeric antigen receptor (C46CD4CAR) to redirect HSPC-derived T-cells against simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) infection in pigtail macaques. CAR-containing cells persisted for more than 2 years without any measurable toxicity and were capable of multilineage engraftment. Combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) treatment followed by cART withdrawal resulted in lower viral rebound in CAR animals relative to controls, and demonstrated an immune memory-like response. We found CAR-expressing cells in multiple lymphoid tissues, decreased tissue-associated SHIV RNA levels, and substantially higher CD4/CD8 ratios in the gut as compared to controls. These results show that HSPC-derived CAR T-cells are capable of long-term engraftment and immune surveillance. This study demonstrates for the first time the safety and feasibility of HSPC-based CAR therapy in a large animal preclinical model.

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, HIV, AIDS, Immune system, Protein, T helper cell, Lymphatic system, Thymus


Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) use polarized secretion to rapidly destroy virally infected and tumor cells. To understand the temporal relationships between key events leading to secretion, we used high-resolution 4D imaging. CTLs approached targets with actin-rich projections at the leading edge, creating an initially actin-enriched contact with rearward-flowing actin. Within 1 min, cortical actin reduced across the synapse, T cell receptors (TCRs) clustered centrally to form the central supramolecular activation cluster (cSMAC), and centrosome polarization began. Granules clustered around the moving centrosome within 2.5 min and reached the synapse after 6 min. TCR-bearing intracellular vesicles were delivered to the cSMAC as the centrosome docked. We found that the centrosome and granules were delivered to an area of membrane with reduced cortical actin density and phospholipid PIP2. These data resolve the temporal order of events during synapse maturation in 4D and reveal a critical role for actin depletion in regulating secretion.

Concepts: White blood cell, Cell, Signal transduction, Cell membrane, Cell biology, Natural killer cell, Cytotoxic T cell, Thymus


After mapping out the molecular mechanisms of T-cell antigen recognition, regulation, and function in the 1980s and 1990s, immunologist James P. Allison hypothesized that blocking negative immune regulators (checkpoints) would give the human immune system the power to fight cancer. His testing of this hypothesis in preclinical models led to the clinical development of a new generation of active agents for cancer treatment. In some subgroups of patients, unleashing native immune-system cells to fight cancer now provides a realistic chance of long-term remission. For this seminal work, Allison, a professor at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, has won . . .

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Immunology, Humoral immunity, Immunity, Adaptive immune system, Major histocompatibility complex, Thymus


For many cancer types, incidence rises rapidly with age as an apparent power law, supporting the idea that cancer is caused by a gradual accumulation of genetic mutations. Similarly, the incidence of many infectious diseases strongly increases with age. Here, combining data from immunology and epidemiology, we show that many of these dramatic age-related increases in incidence can be modeled based on immune system decline, rather than mutation accumulation. In humans, the thymus atrophies from infancy, resulting in an exponential decline in T cell production with a half-life of ∼16 years, which we use as the basis for a minimal mathematical model of disease incidence. Our model outperforms the power law model with the same number of fitting parameters in describing cancer incidence data across a wide spectrum of different cancers, and provides excellent fits to infectious disease data. This framework provides mechanistic insight into cancer emergence, suggesting that age-related decline in T cell output is a major risk factor.

Concepts: Immune system, Epidemiology, Cancer, Disease, Infectious disease, Mutation, Infection, Thymus


Thirdhand smoke (THS) is the fraction of cigarette smoke that persists in indoor environments after smoking. We investigated the effects of neonatal and adult THS exposure on bodyweight and blood cell populations in C57BL/6 J mice. At the end of neonatal exposure, THS-treated male and female mice had significantly lower bodyweight than their respective control mice. However, five weeks after neonatal exposure ended, THS-treated mice weighed the same as controls. In contrast, adult THS exposure did not change bodyweight of mice. On the other hand, both neonatal and adult THS exposure had profound effects on the hematopoietic system. Fourteen weeks after neonatal THS exposure ended, eosinophil number and platelet volume were significantly higher, while hematocrit, mean cell volume, and platelet counts were significantly lower compared to control. Similarly, adult THS exposure also decreased platelet counts and increased neutrophil counts. Moreover, both neonatal and adult THS exposure caused a significant increase in percentage of B-cells and significantly decreased percentage of myeloid cells. Our results demonstrate that neonatal THS exposure decreases bodyweight and that THS exposure induces persistent changes in the hematopoietic system independent of age at exposure. These results also suggest that THS exposure may have adverse effects on human health.

Concepts: Chemotherapy, Smoking, Tobacco smoking, Cigarette, Blood cells, Thrombocytopenia, Thymus, Mean corpuscular volume


We show here that fundamental aspects of antitumor immunity in mice are significantly influenced by ambient housing temperature. Standard housing temperature for laboratory mice in research facilities is mandated to be between 20-26 °C; however, these subthermoneutral temperatures cause mild chronic cold stress, activating thermogenesis to maintain normal body temperature. When stress is alleviated by housing at thermoneutral ambient temperature (30-31 °C), we observe a striking reduction in tumor formation, growth rate and metastasis. This improved control of tumor growth is dependent upon the adaptive immune system. We observe significantly increased numbers of antigen-specific CD8(+) T lymphocytes and CD8(+) T cells with an activated phenotype in the tumor microenvironment at thermoneutrality. At the same time there is a significant reduction in numbers of immunosuppressive MDSCs and regulatory T lymphocytes. Notably, in temperature preference studies, tumor-bearing mice select a higher ambient temperature than non-tumor-bearing mice, suggesting that tumor-bearing mice experience a greater degree of cold-stress. Overall, our data raise the hypothesis that suppression of antitumor immunity is an outcome of cold stress-induced thermogenesis. Therefore, the common approach of studying immunity against tumors in mice housed only at standard room temperature may be limiting our understanding of the full potential of the antitumor immune response.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Cancer, Innate immune system, Humoral immunity, Adaptive immune system, Temperature, Thymus