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Lifestyle effects on T cell signatures and vascular health during aging

Funding: State of Hesse (Flexi-Funds)

In our collaborative project with Sport Science at the JLU Gießen we analyze samples from 80 participants (clinical „healthy ager“) which are distributed with respect to their vascular status in two groups of „low vascular ager“ (no early signs of arteriosclerosis) and „high vascular ager“ (early signs of arteriosclerosis). All subjects are characterized for their physical activity level and diet habits, cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular status, inflammatory status, and T cell profile.

Considering that IL-17-producing T cells are involved in aging, we plan to figure out, which subpopulations of IL-17 producing lymphocytes are dysbalanced in aging and if this correlates with early signs of arteriosclerosis. The IL-17 producing lymphocytes consist of adaptive CD4+ (Th17) and CD8+ (Tc17) cells, and of unconventional T cells including MAIT, gd17 T cells, NKT as well as innate lymphocytes ILC3 (13). We have established a flow cytometry panel for detection of the cells and started analyzing the data. Thus, the focus of this project is to evaluate an association between frequencies of IL-17-producing lymphocytes with vascular changes in healthy agers. In a next step, we plan to analyze the influence of IL-17 producers of vascular smooth muscle cells and vascular fibroblasts which may influence vascular changes in aging.

Figure. 1: Basic setting of the cross-sectional study, which will form the basis for the consortium's further work in an intervention study.