Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type





Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics

First Advisor

Dr. Subbarao Bondada


Immunosenescence results in reduced immune response to infections with Streptococcus pneumoniae as well as to pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines. The antibody response to the capsular polysaccharide (CPS) provides protection against S. pneumoniae infection. CPS immunoresponse is T cell independent and needs the macrophage-derived cytokines such as IL-12, IL-6 and IL-1β to elicit an antibody response. We showed a cytokine dysregulation, i.e. a decrease in IL-12, IL-6 and TNF-α but an increase in IL-10, in the aged (18-24 months old comparable to >65 years in human) compared to young adult mouse (8-12 weeks less than 65 years old) splenic macrophages (SM) or bone marrow derived macrophages (BMDM) activated via TLR4, TLR2 or TLR9 as well as heat killed Streptococcus pneumoniae (HKSP). There is also an age-associated defect in splenic B cells in the production of IgG3 upon stimulation with these ligands. A microarray analysis in SM followed by validation by both qt-RTPCR and western blots indicated that this age-associated defect in aged SM, BMDM and B cells was due to a heightened activity of the PI3K-Akt signaling pathway. We hypothesized that the senescence of immune responses in macrophages and B cells is due to an increase in activity of PI3K/Akt and decrease in the activity of GSK-3, the downstream kinase. Inhibition of the PI3-kinase with either LY294002 or Wortmannin restored the TLR2, 4, 9 and HKSP induced cytokine phenotype of the aged to that of the young adult in both the SM and BMDM and an enhanced IgG3 production in aged mice.

We also showed that inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) the downstream target of the PI3K-Akt signaling pathway with SB216763 in SM, BMDM and B cells resulted in an enhancement in production of IL-10, IL-6 and IL-1β by macrophages and in B cell activation. Treatment of B cells with SB216763 in the presence of ligands for TLR-1/2, 4 or 9 as well as HKSP under in vitro conditions led to enhanced production of IgG3 and IgA, plasma cell formation and a slight increase in the proliferation of the B-cells with no adverse effects on the viability of the cells. Therefore, targeting the PI3K-AKT-GKS-3 signaling pathway could rescue the intrinsic signaling defect in the aged macrophages, increase IL-12 and IL-6, and enhance anti-CPS antibody responses.



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