Telomere Dynamics in Immune Senescence and Exhaustion Triggered by Chronic Viral Infection

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Scientists from the Department of Pathology, Center for Viral Pathogenesis, University of Kansas Medical Center, published a review of how common chronic viral infections can lead to T-cell exhaustion and immune senescence. The authors review existing literature and conclude that evidence points to telomeric shortening as a primary mechanism driving these long-term consequences of chronic infections such as Human Herpes Virus 8 (HHV-8), Epstein Barre Virus (EBV) and HIV. The authors present information that supports a model whereby the chronic antigen stimulation caused by the chronic proliferation of viral-specific memory T cells can lead to telomere shortening, activation of the DNA damage response, and replicative senescence. These factors inhibit the immune system’s ability to effectively clear the infections and can lead to re-activation of the virus in later life causing disease re-occurrence and, for those oncogenic viruses, cancer. The authors state that forestalling T-cell exhaustion should be a primary target for the development of anti-viral therapies.

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2 comments on “Telomere Dynamics in Immune Senescence and Exhaustion Triggered by Chronic Viral Infection

  • This is all well and good but according to the test I took my telomere’s are very short. I work out 5X per week and eat a relatively clean diet. Stress levels are pretty low so according to the continued emails you send I’m screwed. I need something that will eaither lengthen my telomeres or at the very least prevent them from getting shorter. I did quit alcohol 16 months ago so would be interested in taking the test again, but would be very disappointed if there wasn’t an improvement.

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