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T cells with dysfunctional mitochondria induce multimorbidity and premature senescence

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Science  21 May 2020:
eaax0860
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax0860

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Abstract

The impact of immunometabolism on age-associated diseases remains uncertain. Here, we show that T cells with dysfunctional mitochondria due to mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) deficiency act as accelerators of senescence. In mice, these cells instigate multiple aging-related features, including metabolic, cognitive, physical, and cardiovascular alterations, which together result in premature death. T cell metabolic failure induces the accumulation of circulating cytokines, which resembles chronic inflammation characteristic of aging (“inflammaging”). This cytokine storm itself acts as a systemic inducer of senescence. Blocking TNF-α signaling or preventing senescence with NAD+ precursors partially rescues premature aging in mice with Tfam-deficient T cells. Thus, T cells can regulate organismal fitness and lifespan, highlighting the importance of tight immunometabolic control in both aging and the onset of age-associated diseases.

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