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Age matters:  Young T lymphocytes offer better protection from myeloma proliferation

Alexander F Glick1, Yan S Song1, Brian Hwang1, John Lillvis1, Pat Zanzonico2, Camil Fuchs3, Roger N Pearse1, Paul Szabo4 and Marc E Weksler1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA

2 Department of Medical Physics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA

3 Department of Statistics, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

4 Department of Neurology, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA

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Immunity & Ageing 2013, 10:5  doi:10.1186/1742-4933-10-5

Published: 18 February 2013



The incidence and growth of cancer has been reported to increase with age and/or impaired T lymphocyte function.


Consistent with these observations, we found that a monoclonal serum immunoglobulin (mIgG2b), rarely detectable after the injection of 5T33 murine multiple myeloma (MMM) cells into 3–4 month old wild-type C57BL/6 mice was seen more frequently in 18–20 month old wild-type C57BL/6 mice and in 3–4 month old Rag1-deficient C57BL/6 mice. These observations were confirmed and extended using more sensitive assays such as quantitation of splenic mRNA specific for the canonical 5T33 monoclonal IgG2b produced by 5T33 myeloma cells and the most sensitive assay, photon-imaging of mice injected with 5T33 cells, stably transfected with fire-fly luciferase gene (5T33L cells), which emit photons after the injection of luciferin. Furthermore, the proliferation of 5T33L myeloma cells in Rag1-deficient C57BL/6 mice was greater in mice which also received spleen T cells from 18–20 month old C57BL/6 wild-type mice compared to mice which received splenic T cells from 3–4 month old C57BL/6 wild-type mice. Thus, immune reconstitution of C57BL/6 mice with splenic T cells from young wild-type mice offered greater protection from progressive growth of 5T33L myeloma cells than did reconstitution with splenic T cells from old mice.


Our findings support the hypothesis that age-associated changes in splenic T cell function contribute to the increased growth of 5T33 MMM cells in old compared to young C57BL/6 mice. Should similar processes occur in humans, increasing the anti-myeloma activity of T cells in old patients with multiple myeloma or transferring cryopreserved, young, autologous, T cells might benefit elderly patients with multiple myeloma.