Aging-related impairments to M cells in Peyer's patches coincide with disturbances to Paneth cells

David Donaldson, Barbara Shih, Neil Mabbott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The decline in mucosal immunity during aging increases susceptibility, morbidity and mortality to infections acquired via the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts in the elderly. We previously showed that this immunosenescence includes a reduction in the functional maturation of M cells in the follicle-associated epithelia (FAE) covering the Peyer’s patches, diminishing the ability to sample of antigens and pathogens from the gut lumen. Here, co-expression analysis of mRNA-seq data sets revealed a general down-regulation of most FAE- and M cell-related genes in Peyer’s patches from aged mice, including key transcription factors known to be essential for M cell differentiation. Conversely, expression of ACE2, the cellular receptor for SARS-Cov-2 virus, was increased in the aged FAE. This raises the possibility that the susceptibility of aged Peyer’s patches to infection with the SARS-Cov-2 virus is increased. Expression of key Paneth cell-related genes was also reduced in the ileum of aged mice, consistent with the adverse effects of aging on their function. However, the increased expression of these genes in the villous epithelium of aged mice suggested a disturbed distribution of Paneth cells in the aged intestine. Aging effects on Paneth cells negatively impact on the regenerative ability of the gut epithelium and could indirectly impede M cell differentiation. Thus, restoring Paneth cell function may represent a novel means to improve M cell differentiation in the aging intestine and increase mucosal vaccination efficacy in the elderly.
Original languageEnglish
Article number761949
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Early online date6 Dec 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Dec 2021


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