In studies of immune aging, naive T cells frequently take center stage. Describing the complexity of the human naive T cell repertoire remains a daunting task; however, emerging data suggest that homeostatic mechanisms are robust enough to maintain a large and diverse CD4 T cell repertoire with age. Compartment shrinkage and clonal expansions are challenges for naive CD8 T cells. In addition to population aspects, identification of potentially targetable cellular defects is receiving renewed interest. The last decade has seen remarkable progress in identifying genetic and biochemical pathways that are pertinent for aging in general and that are instructive to understand naive T cell dysfunction. One hallmark sets naive T cell aging apart from most other tissues except stem cells: they initiate but do not complete differentiation programs toward memory cells. Maintaining quiescence and avoiding differentiation may be the ultimate challenge to maintain the functions unique for naive T cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy