Association of Premature Immune Aging and Cytomegalovirus After Solid Organ Transplant

Lauren E. Higdon, Claire E. Gustafson, Xuhuai Ji, Malaya K. Sahoo, Benjamin A. Pinsky, Kenneth B. Margulies, Holden T. Maecker, Jorg Goronzy, Jonathan S. Maltzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Immune function is altered with increasing age. Infection with cytomegalovirus (CMV) accelerates age-related immunological changes resulting in expanded oligoclonal memory CD8 T cell populations with impaired proliferation, signaling, and cytokine production. As a consequence, elderly CMV seropositive (CMV+) individuals have increased mortality and impaired responses to other infections in comparison to seronegative (CMV) individuals of the same age. CMV is also a significant complication after organ transplantation, and recent studies have shown that CMV-associated expansion of memory T cells is accelerated after transplantation. Thus, we investigated whether immune aging is accelerated post-transplant, using a combination of telomere length, flow cytometry phenotyping, and single cell RNA sequencing. Telomere length decreased slightly in the first year after transplantation in a subset of both CMV+ and CMV recipients with a strong concordance between CD57+ cells and short telomeres. Phenotypically aged cells increased post-transplant specifically in CMV+ recipients, and clonally expanded T cells were enriched for terminally differentiated cells post-transplant. Overall, these findings demonstrate a pattern of accelerated aging of the CD8 T cell compartment in CMV+ transplant recipients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number661551
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - May 27 2021


  • Telomere
  • cytomegalovirus (CMV)
  • flow cytometry
  • immunosenescence
  • transplantation immunobiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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