Old age is accompanied by an increased incidence of infection and poorer responses to vaccination. In this proof of principle study, old female rhesus macaques (aged 18.5 to 23.9 years) were treated with recombinant simian interleukin-7 (IL-7) or saline, according to a two-phase regime. Treatment was not associated with bone loss as fudged by plasma carboxy terminal telopeptide of type I collagen (ICTP) levels, nor with neutropenia. IL-7-treated animals showed an increase in the number of blood CD4+CD3+ and CD8+CD3+ T cells after both phases of treatment and a transient increase in the number of naïve (CD62L+CD45RA +) T cells for both CD4+ and CD8+ subsets after only the first treatment. Increases in TREC levels per T cell followed both phases of treatment, but were more prolonged after the second phase. Following vaccination with inactivated influenza strain A/PR/8/34, hemagglutination inhibition assays showed that half of the IL-7-treated animals showed a greater than eight-fold increase in antibody titer following the first challenge with the vaccine. In addition IL-7-treated animals showed higher, numbers of central memory CD8+ T cells compared to pretreatment levels with numbers greater than in the saline-treated group. Animals with the highest hemagglutination inhibition titers and the best proliferation against flu antigen were among those with the highest TREC per T cell levels after the second phase of treatment. Treatment of the elderly with IL-7 may provide an effective therapy to improve the immune system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geriatrics and Gerontology