Reversible CD8 T cell-neuron cross-talk causes aging-dependent neuronal regenerative decline
Luming Zhou, Guiping Kong, Ilaria Palmisano, Maria Teresa Cencioni, Matt Danzi, Francesco De Virgiliis, Jessica S Chadwick, Greg Crawford, Zicheng Yu, Fred De Winter, Vance Lemmon, John Bixby, Radhika Puttagunta, Joost Verhaagen, Constandina Pospori, Cristina Lo Celso, Jessica Strid, Marina Botto, Simone Di Giovanni
Aging is associated with increased prevalence of axonal injuries characterized by poor regeneration and disability. However, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. In our experiments, RNA sequencing of sciatic dorsal root ganglia (DRG) revealed significant aging-dependent enrichment in T cell signaling both before and after sciatic nerve injury (SNI) in mice. Lymphotoxin activated the transcription factor NF-κB, which induced expression of the chemokine CXCL13 by neurons. This in turn recruited CXCR5+CD8+ T cells to injured DRG neurons overexpressing major histocompatibility complex class I. CD8+ T cells repressed the axonal regeneration of DRG neurons via caspase 3 activation. CXCL13 neutralization prevented CXCR5+CD8+ T cell recruitment to the DRG and reversed aging-dependent regenerative decline, thereby promoting neurological recovery after SNI. Thus, axonal regeneration can be facilitated by antagonizing cross-talk between immune cells and neurons.