Ageing is associated with changes in the peripheral T cell immune system, which can be influenced significantly by latent cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. To what extent changes in circulating T cell populations correlate with T cell composition of the lymph node (LN) is unclear, but is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of the T cell system. T cells from peripheral blood (PB) and LN of end-stage renal disease patients were analysed for frequency of recent thymic emigrants using CD31 expression and T cell receptor excision circle content, relative telomere length and expression of differentiation markers. Compared with PB, LN contained relatively more CD4+ than CD8+ T cells (P<0·001). The percentage of naive and central memory CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and thymic output parameters showed a strong linear correlation between PB and LN. Highly differentiated CD28null T cells, being CD27-, CD57+ or programmed death 1 (PD-1+), were found almost exclusively in the circulation but not in LN. An age-related decline in naive CD4+ and CD8+ T cell frequency was observed (P=0·035 and P=0·002, respectively) within LN, concomitant with an increase in central memory CD8+ T cells (P=0·033). Latent CMV infection increased dramatically the frequency of circulating terminally differentiated T cells, but did not alter T cell composition and ageing parameters of LN significantly. Overall T cell composition and measures of thymic function in PB and LN are correlated strongly. However, highly differentiated CD28null T cells, which may comprise a large part of circulating T cells in CMV-seropositive individuals, are found almost exclusively within the circulation.

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Keywords Ageing, End-stage renal disease, Lymph node, Peripheral blood, T cells
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Journal Clinical and Experimental Immunology
Dedeoğlu, B, de Weerd, A, Huang, L, Langerak, A.W, Dor, F.J.M.F, Klepper, M, … Betjes, M.G.H. (2017). Lymph node and circulating T cell characteristics are strongly correlated in end-stage renal disease patients, but highly differentiated T cells reside within the circulation. Clinical and Experimental Immunology. doi:10.1111/cei.12934