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Aging leads to a decline in immune cell function, which leaves the organism vulnerable to infections and age-related multimorbidities. One major player of the adaptive immune response are T cells, and recent studies argue for a major role of disturbed proteostasis contributing to reduced function of these cells upon aging. Proteostasis refers to the state of a healthy, balanced proteome in the cell and is influenced by synthesis (translation), maintenance and quality control of proteins, as well as degradation of damaged or unwanted proteins by the proteasome, autophagy, lysosome and cytoplasmic enzymes. This review focuses on molecular processes impacting on proteostasis in T cells, and specifically functional or quantitative changes of each of these upon aging. Importantly, we describe the biological consequences of compromised proteostasis in T cells, which range from impaired T cell activation and function to enhancement of inflamm-aging by aged T cells. Finally, approaches to improve proteostasis and thus rejuvenate aged T cells through pharmacological or physical interventions are discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


Semin Immunol

Publication Date





Aging, Degradation, Inflamm-aging, Proteostasis, T cell, Translation