A Groundbreaking Discovery in T Cell Telomere Aging

Telomere “caps” are located at the ends of all chromosomes, including those of the immune system’s T-lymphocytes (T cells), and become shorter with every cell division. Once these chromosomes reach a point where the telomere is too short to provide adequate protection, division ceases and the cell proceeds to senescence. The loss of immune cells to this process negatively impacts the functionality of the immune system, leading to chronic health conditions and/or cancerous diseases. This process is one of the primary factors related to aging, and current dogma suggests that the only way to counteract telomere shortening is through the DNA synthesizing enzyme telomerase. However, an exciting new study published in Nature Cell Biology has identified a previously unknown mechanism of combating telomere aging.

In the paper, titled “An intercellular transfer of telomeres rescues T cells from senescence and promotes long-term immunological memory”, Lanna et al. found that during T cell immune response against a foreign microbe infection, antigen presenting cells (APCs) transferred telomeres to recipient T cells to varying degrees. Dendritic cells and monocytes displayed the highest degree of transfer, while B cells displayed this tendency to a lesser extent. Recipient T cells were primarily naïve or central memory cells and, upon acquisition of APC telomeres through extracellular vesicles (EVs), became stem-like and/or long-lived memory cells able to continue protecting a host against an infection even as their unaltered T-cell counterparts proceeded to senescence. It was discovered that this telomere transfer resulted in T cell chromosome ends that were lengthened by an average of ~3000 base pairs and were able to continue elongation even when deficient in telomerase. This ensured that these recipient T cells were protected from senescence and could provide long-lasting immune protection even prior to the commencement of clonal division. The discovery opens up a thrilling new avenue of research regarding telomere loss, the aging process, and the strategies the body utilizes to counteract them.

ScienCell was equally excited to note that the present study utilized our Absolute Human Telomere Length Quantification qPCR Assay Kit (ScienCell Cat# 8918) in the DNA content analysis of purified telomere vesicles, quantification of telomere length, qPCR analysis of telomere ssDNA, and analysis of APC/T cell telomere fusion. ScienCell is honored to have been selected for this study and is committed to continue providing scientists with quality products they can trust to aid in their research.

Read the full publication here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41556-022-00991-z

Learn more about ScienCell’s Absolute Human Telomere Length Quantification qPCR Assay Kit: https://www.sciencellonline.com/absolute-human-telomere-length-quantification-qpcr-assay-kit.html

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