Aging is associated with reduced IL-2 production and T cell proliferation. Vitamin E supplementation, in aged animals and humans, increases cell division and IL-2 production by naive T cells. The immune synapse forms at the site of contact between a T cell and an APC and participates in T cell activation. We evaluated whether vitamin E affects the redistribution of signaling proteins to the immune synapse. Purified CD4+ T cells, from the spleens of young and old mice, were treated with vitamin E before stimulation with a surrogate APC expressing anti-CD3. Using confocal fluorescent microscopy, we observed that CD4+ T cells from old mice were significantly less likely to recruit signaling proteins to the immune synapse than cells from young mice.
Vitamin E increased the percentage of old CD4+ T cells capable of forming an effective immune synapse. Similar results were found following in vivo supplementation with vitamin E. When compared with memory cells, naive T cells from aged mice were more defective in immune synapse formation and were more responsive to vitamin E supplementation. These data show, for the first time, that vitamin E significantly improves age-related early T cell signaling events in naive CD4+ T cells.
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