Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The conserved lysosomal degradation pathway autophagy is now recognised as an essential cog in immune function. While functionally widespread in the innate immune system, knowledge of its roles in adaptive immunity is more limited. Although autophagy has been implicated in naïve T cell homeostasis, its requirement in antigen-specific T cells during infection was unknown. Using a murine model where the essential autophagy gene Atg7 is deleted in the T cell lineage, we have shown that autophagy is dispensable for effector CD8+ T cell responses, but crucial for the formation of memory CD8+ T cells. Here, we suggest reasons why autophagy might be important for the formation of long-lasting immunity. Like in the absence of autophagy, T cell memory formation during ageing is also defective. We observed diminished autophagy levels in T cells from aged mice, linking autophagy to immunosenescence. Importantly, T cell responses to influenza vaccination could be significantly improved using the autophagy-inducing compound spermidine. These results suggest the autophagy pathway as a desirable target to improve aged immunity and modulate T cell function.

Original publication

DOI

10.15698/mic2015.03.195

Type

Journal article

Journal

Microbial cell (Graz, Austria)

Publication Date

02/03/2015

Volume

2

Pages

91 - 93

Addresses

MRC Human Immunology Unit, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford, OX3 9DS.