12-week combined strength and endurance exercise attenuates CD8+ T-cell differentiation and affects the kynurenine pathway in the elderly

a randomized controlled trial

authored by
Tim Konstantin Boßlau, Paulina Wasserfurth, Thomas Reichel, Christopher Weyh, Jana Palmowski, Josefine Nebl, Niklas Joisten, Sergen Belen, Alexander Schenk, Andreas Hahn, Philipp Zimmer, Karsten Krüger

Background: Age-related accumulation of highly differentiated CD8+ effector memory re-expressing CD45RA (EMRA) T-cells and disruption of the kynurenine (KYN) pathway are associated with chronic inflammation and the development of insulin resistance. In this study the aim was to investigate the effects of 12-week combined strength and endurance exercise on CD8+ T-cell differentiation and KYN pathway metabolites. Ninety-six elderly subjects (f/m, aged 50—70) were randomized to a control (CON) or exercise (EX) group. The EX group completed combined strength and endurance training twice weekly for one hour each time at an intensity of 60% of the one-repetition maximum for strength exercises and a perceived exertion of 15/20 for endurance exercises. The EX group was also randomly subdivided into two groups with or without a concomitant balanced diet intervention in order to examine additional effects besides exercise alone. Before and after the intervention phase, the proportions of CD8+ T-cell subsets and levels of KYN pathway metabolites in peripheral blood were determined. Results: The CD8+ EMRA T-cell subsets increased in the CON group but remained almost unchanged in the EX group (p =.02). Plasma levels of kynurenic acid (KA) increased in the EX group and decreased in the CON group (p =.03). Concomitant nutritional intervention resulted in lower levels of quinolinic acid (QA) compared with exercise alone (p =.03). Overall, there was a slight increase in the QA/KA ratio in the CON group, whereas it decreased in the EX group (p >.05). Conclusions: Combined strength and endurance training seems to be a suitable approach to attenuate CD8+ T-cell differentiation in the elderly and to redirect the KYN pathway towards KA. The clinical relevance of these effects needs further investigation.

Faculty of Natural Sciences
Institute of Food Science and Human Nutrition
Nutrition Physiology and Human Nutrition Section
External Organisation(s)
Justus Liebig University Giessen
Technical University of Munich (TUM)
TU Dortmund University
Immunity and Ageing
Publication date
Publication status
Peer reviewed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Immunology, Ageing
Electronic version(s)
https://doi.org/10.1186/s12979-023-00347-7 (Access: Open)