miR-181a-regulated pathways in T-cell differentiation and aging

Chulwoo Kim, Zhongde Ye, Cornelia M. Weyand, Jörg J. Goronzy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are regulatory noncoding RNAs important for many aspects of cellular processes including cell differentiation and proliferation. Functions of numerous miRNAs have been identified in T cells, with miR-181a regulating T cell activation thresholds during thymic T cell development and during activation of peripheral T cells. Intriguingly, miR-181a is implicated in defective antiviral and vaccine responses in older individuals, as its expression declines in naïve T cells with increasing age. Here, we review the pathways that are regulated by miR-181a and that explain the unique role of miR-181a in T cell development, T cell activation and antiviral T cell responses. These studies provide a framework for understanding how a decline in miR-181a expression in T cells could contribute to age-related defects in adaptive immunity. We furthermore review the mechanisms that cause the age-related decline in miR-181a expression and discuss the potential of restoring miR-181a expression or targeting miR-181a-regulated pathways to improve impaired T cell responses in older individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number28
JournalImmunity and Ageing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Infectious disease
  • Memory T cells
  • Replication stress
  • T cell activation
  • T cell aging
  • T cell differentiation
  • Vaccine
  • miR-181a
  • microRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Aging


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