T-regulatory cells (Tregs) play a key role in suppressing effector cells and maintaining self-tolerance. Studies of younger adults and children suggest that insufficient differentiation and functional defects of Tregs may contribute to the development of asthma; however, data from older patients with asthma are limited. To address the effects of aging on the relationship of Treg frequency and function with clinical outcomes, we collected induced sputum (differential cell count and Treg frequency) and peripheral blood (Treg function and frequency) from aged (> 60 years of age) and younger (20–40 years old) patients with asthma. In younger patients, low Treg suppression was associated with significantly higher mean numbers of emergency department (ED) (1.8 vs. 0.17, P = 0.02) and urgent care visits (2.3 vs. 0.17, P = 0.01) for asthma, and decreased asthma control (mean Asthma Control Test [ACT] score, 17 vs. 21.3, P = 0.01) compared to those with high Treg suppression. In older patients, however, a lower Treg function was not significantly associated with ACT scores (18.2 vs. 13.4, P = 0.10), or the number of ED (P = 0.9) or urgent care visits (P = 0.2). Our data suggest that Tregs have a weak relationship with asthma control and clinical asthma outcomes in older patients and differ from findings in younger patients, where Tregs are more likely to play a protective role.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere51
JournalAllergy, Asthma and Immunology Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Aging
  • Asthma
  • Blood
  • Cell count
  • Cytokines
  • Immunosenescence
  • Regulatory
  • Self tolerance
  • Sputum
  • T-lymphocytes
  • Transcription factors


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