Carbohydrate metabolism in transforming lymphocytes from the aged

Authors

  • Trygve O. Tollefsbol,

    Corresponding author
    1. Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710
    2. Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27705
    • Department of Community Health Science, West Fee Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824
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  • Harvey J. Cohen

    1. Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710
    2. Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27705
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Abstract

There is an age-related decline in immune capacity which has been linked to a decreased response of lymphocytes to mitogens in vitro. During transformation, lymphocytes require a marked increase in energy production and biosynthesis which is supplied primarily by glycolysis. In the elderly, the glycolytic enzymes increase significantly in transforming lymphocytes at least 24 hr later than in the young and then at significantly reduced levels. Glucose utilization is also impaired in stimulated lymphocytes from the elderly but follows the impairment of glycolysis. In stimulated cells from the young, increases in glycolytic enzyme activity levels accompany sharp increases in blastogenesis while a delayed increase in glycolytic enzyme activity in the elderly is accompanied by a delay in blastogenesis. Maximal glycolytic enzyme activity levels are significantly reduced in transformed lymphocytes from the elderly though the number of transformed cells is also significantly reduced. However, glycolytic enzyme activity levels are significantly lower in the elderly than in the young even on a per transformed cell basis. Thus, this reduction cannot be attributed to the lower number of transformed cells that are present in the elderly. This defect in the increase of glycolysis in stimulated cells from the elders suggests an intracellular mechanism which could be related to the impaired lymphocyte stimulation in vitro in the aged.

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