Doctor of Philosophy, Fudan University (2010)
Cornelia Weyand, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
In the HLA class II-associated autoimmune syndrome rheumatoid arthritis (RA), CD4 T cells are critical drivers of pathogenic immunity. We have explored the metabolic activity of RA T cells and its impact on cellular function and fate. Naive CD4 T cells from RA patients failed to metabolize equal amounts of glucose as age-matched control cells, generated less intracellular ATP, and were apoptosis-susceptible. The defect was attributed to insufficient induction of 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-bisphosphatase 3 (PFKFB3), a regulatory and rate-limiting glycolytic enzyme known to cause the Warburg effect. Forced overexpression of PFKFB3 in RA T cells restored glycolytic flux and protected cells from excessive apoptosis. Hypoglycolytic RA T cells diverted glucose toward the pentose phosphate pathway, generated more NADPH, and consumed intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS). PFKFB3 deficiency also constrained the ability of RA T cells to resort to autophagy as an alternative means to provide energy and biosynthetic precursor molecules. PFKFB3 silencing and overexpression identified a novel extraglycolytic role of the enzyme in autophagy regulation. In essence, T cells in RA patients, even those in a naive state, are metabolically reprogrammed with insufficient up-regulation of the glycolytic activator PFKFB3, rendering them energy-deprived, ROS- and autophagy-deficient, apoptosis-sensitive, and prone to undergo senescence.
View details for DOI 10.1084/jem.20130252
View details for PubMedID 24043759
Immune aging is best known for its immune defects that increase susceptibility to infections and reduce adaptive immune responses to vaccination. In parallel, the aged immune system is prone to autoimmune responses and many autoimmune diseases increase in incidence with age or are even preferentially encountered in the elderly. Why an immune system that suboptimally responds to exogenous antigen fails to maintain tolerance to self-antigens appears to be perplexing. In this review, we will discuss age-associated deviations in the immune repertoire and the regulation of signaling pathways that may shed light on this conundrum.
View details for DOI 10.3389/fimmu.2013.00131
View details for PubMedID 23761790