Institute of Immunity and Transplantation


NK T-cell lymphoma


Study reveals molecules responsible for ageing in immunity cells

19 January 2017

A recent study by the Akbar Lab and Dr Alessio Lanna discovered how to boost immune cells during the ageing process in both humans and mice.

Human T cells showing nuclei

Supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Wellcome Trust, the study explored whether it is possible to reverse age-associated decline in immune function by inhibiting protein molecules, known as sestrins, which act upstream of p38 activation in T lymphocytes.

The study, published in Nature Immunology, found that sestrins have pro-ageing activities in T lymphocytes, identifying a sestrin-dependent MAPK activation complex (sMAC) in which sestrins simultaneously coordinate the activation of ERK and JNK. Disruption of this complex in older humans revealed an enhanced function of T lymphocytes, and in older mice it enhanced responsiveness to influenza vaccination.

The Akbar Lab produced a video discussing the paper in Nature Immunology on the role of sestrins in immunity and ageing.