Background Obesity adversely affects health and is associated with subclinical systemic inflammation and features of accelerated aging, including the T-cell immune system. The presence of metabolic syndrome (MetS) may accelerate, while bariatric surgery might reverse these phenomena. To examine the effects of MetS and bariatric surgery on T-cell aging, we measured relative telomere length (RTL) and T-cell differentiation status in obese patients before and after bariatric surgery. Methods WHO II/III classified obese patients scheduled for bariatric surgery were included: 41 without MetS and 67 with MetS. RTL and T-cell differentiation status were measured in circulating CD4+ and CD8+ T cells via flow cytometry. T-cell characteristics were compared between patients with and without MetS prior to and at 3, 6, and 12 months after surgery considering effects of age, cytomegalovirus-serostatus, and weight loss. Results Thymic output, represented by numbers of CD31-expressing naive T cells, showed an age-related decline in patients with MetS. MetS significantly enhanced CD8+ T-cell differentiation. Patients with MetS had significant lower CD4+ RTL than patients without MetS. Within the first 6 months after bariatric surgery, RTL increased in CD4+ T cells after which it decreased at month 12. A decline in both thymic output and more differentiated T cells was seen following bariatric surgery, more pronounced in the MetS group and showing an association with percentage of body weight loss. Conclusions In obese patients, MetS results in attrition of RTL and accelerated T-cell differentiation. Bariatric surgery temporarily reverses these effects. These data suggest that MetS is a risk factor for accelerated aging of T cells and that MetS should be a more prominent factor in the decision making for eligibility for bariatric surgery.,
International Journal of Obesity
Department of Immunology

Jongbloed, F., Meijers, R., IJzermans, J., Klaassen, R., Dollé, M., van den Berg, S., … Litjens, N. (2019). Effects of bariatric surgery on telomere length and T-cell aging. International Journal of Obesity, 43(11), 2189–2199. doi:10.1038/s41366-019-0351-y