CCR4+ regulatory T cells accumulate in the very elderly and correlate with superior 8-year survival

Evelyna Derhovanessian, Sijia Chen, Andrea B. Maier, Karin Hãhnel, Anton J.M. De Craen, Helene Roelofs, Rudi Westendorp, Graham Pawelec

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18 Scopus citations


CD4+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) are a distinct population of T cells involved in maintaining peripheral tolerance to self-antigens. Several studies have shown increased frequency and number of Tregs in the elderly. Whether such an increase has any clinical relevance has not been addressed. Here, we have analyzed circulating Tregs in 114 donors between the ages of 18 and 89 years and assessed their implications for survival of the very elderly. In line with previously published data, we observed higher proportions of Tregs in the elderly. Expression of chemokine receptor 4 (CCR4) by Tregs has been shown to characterize antigen-primed activated Tregs with immediate suppressive function. Thus we further analyzed Tregs expressing or lacking this chemokine receptor. There were more CCR4+ and CCR4â Tregs in the elderly than the young. Finally, using a subset of 48 elderly donors participating in the Leiden 85-plus study we documented that people with greater median frequencies of CCR4+ Tregs enjoyed a better 8-year survival rate than those with lower frequencies of these cells. Our data, demonstrating for the first time a positive correlation between increased frequency of Tregs and survival in the elderly, imply an increasing importance of controlling inappropriate immune responses and inflammation as we grew old.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)917-923
Number of pages7
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Elderly
  • Mortality
  • Tregs


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