NEWS
1550 Archive

2021.02.10

Distinct organization of adaptive immunity in the long-lived rodent Spalax galili

A balanced immune response is a cornerstone of healthy aging. Here, we uncover distinctive features of the long-lived blind mole-rat (Spalax spp.) adaptive immune system, relative to humans and mice. The T-cell repertoire remains diverse throughout the Spalax lifespan, suggesting a paucity of large long-lived clones of effector-memory T cells. Expression of master transcription factors of T-cell differentiation, as well as checkpoint and cytotoxicity genes, remains low as Spalax ages. The thymus shrinks as in mice and humans, while interleukin-7 and interleukin-7 receptor expression remain high, potentially reflecting the sustained homeostasis of naive T cells. With aging, the immunoglobulin hypermutation level does not increase and the immunoglobulin-M repertoire remains diverse, suggesting shorter B-cell memory and sustained homeostasis of innate-like B cells. The Spalax adaptive immune system thus appears biased towards sustained functional and receptor diversity over specialized, long-lived effector-memory clones—a unique organizational strategy that potentially underlies this animal’s extraordinary longevity and healthy aging.