The bone marrow as an effector T cell organ in aging

A. Sharp, T. Kukulansky, Y. Malkinson, A. Globerson

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14 Scopus citations


The idea that the bone marrow (BM) might function as a T cell effector organ and might constitute a compensating system to the decreased T cell compartment in aging was examined by carrying out an anlysis of T cell functions in this tissue. The Thy1+ cells, which were found to increase in their proportions with age in the BM, were sorted out from the BM of young and old mice by flow cytometry and their proliferative response to Concanavalin A (conA) stimulation was measured. The sorted Thy1+ cells responded to conA at levels comparable to those of splenocytes, with the old BM showing a significantly lower response than the young. To determine whether cells of the intact BM behave in a similar pattern to the sorted cells, we measured the responses induced by conA in unseparated BM cells of both age groups. The results showed that the patterns of proliferative response in the intact BM cells were different than those observed in splenocytes and in the Thy1+ sorted cells. Hence, cells of the old BM manifested initially higher levels of proliferation preceding that of the young BM, yet the response was apparent for a shorter duration. When we measured the conA induced proliferation of the intact BM cells in the presence of colchicine, the number of BM cells entering the first mitotic cycle was higher in the old. Thus, it seems that there are more effector T cells in the old BM, yet their response to stimulation is of shorter duration. This conclusion was also supported by the assessment of cytotoxic T lymphocytes precursor (CTLp) frequency and of CTL function of the BM. CTLp was higher in the old BM following 3 days of incubation and lower following 7 and 9 days of incubation. The old BM cells showed a reduced CTL response at the proliferative phase when stimulated for 4-7 days, yet their effector cell reactivity was either equal or more efficient than the young.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-233
Number of pages15
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 15 Mar 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental Biology


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