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Research Project: Childhood Obesity Prevention

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Excess body mass is associated with T cell differentiation indicative of immune aging in children

Author
item Spielmann, G - University Of Houston
item Johnston, Craig - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item O'connor, D - University Of Houston
item Foreyt, John - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item Simpson, R - University Of Houston

Submitted to: Clinical and Experimental Immunology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/23/2013
Publication Date: 5/1/2014
Citation: Spielmann, G., Johnston, C.A., O'Connor, D.P., Foreyt, J.P., Simpson, R.J. 2014. Excess body mass is associated with T cell differentiation indicative of immune aging in children. Clinical and Experimental Immunology. 176(2):246-254.

Interpretive Summary: There are many obesity-related diseases and health problems, which produce gradual deterioration of the immune system comparable to that of ageing. This gradual deterioration is called immunosenescence and it has various features by which it can be measured in the human body. Obesity is thought to impact these features but no studies have examined this relationship. In addition, it is not known if these associations are present in obese children. Idenitfying such links will provide strong evidence that obesity accelerates this gradual immune deterioration early in life, thus predisposing children to greater levels of immune impairment as adults. This study showed that excess body mass, even in adolescence, may accelerate gradual immune deterioration and predispose children to increased risks of incurring immune-related health problems in adulthood. This information can aid future targeted intervention.

Technical Abstract: Obesity has been associated with accelerated biological ageing and immunosenescence. As the prevalence of childhood obesity is increasing, we wanted to determine if associations between obesity and immunosenescence would manifest in children. We studied 123 Mexican American adolescents aged 10–14 (mean 12,3 +/- 0,7) years, with body weights ranging from 30,1 to 115,2 kg (mean 52,5 +/- 14,5 kg). Blood samples were obtained to determine proportions of naive, central memory (CM), effector memory (EM), senescent and early, intermediate and highly differentiated subsets of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Overweight and obese children had significantly lowered proportions of early CD8+ T cells (B = -11,55 and –5,51%, respectively) compared to healthy weight. Overweight children also had more EM (B = +7,53%), late (B = +8,90%) and senescent (B = +4,86%) CD8+ T cells than healthy weight children, while obese children had more intermediate CD8+ (B = +4,59%), EM CD8+ (B = +5,49%), late CD4+ (B = +2,01%) and senescent CD4+ (B = +0,98%) T cells compared to healthy weight children. These findings withstood adjustment for potentially confounding variables, including age, gender and latent cytomegalovirus and Epstein–Barr virus infections. We conclude that excess body mass, even in adolescence, may accelerate immunosenescence and predispose children to increased risks of incurring immune-related health problems in adulthood.