Aging coincides with major changes in brain immunity that aid in a decline in neuronal function. Here, we postulate that systemic, pro-aging factors contribute to immunological changes that occur within the brain during aging. To investigate this hypothesis, we comprehensively characterized the central and peripheral immune landscape of 20-month-old male mice using cytometry by time-of-flight (CyTOF) and investigated the role of age-associated circulating factors. We found that CD8+ T cells expressing programmed cell death protein 1 (PD1) and tissue-resident memory CD8+ T cells accumulated in the aged brain while levels of memory T cells rose in the periphery. Injections of plasma derived from 20-month-old mice into 5-month-old receiving mice decreased the frequency of splenic and circulating naïve T cells, increased memory CD8+ T cells, and non-classical, patrolling monocytes in the spleen, and elevated levels of regulatory T cells and non-classical monocytes in the blood. Notably, CD8+ T cells accumulated within white matter areas of plasma-treated mice, which coincided with the expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1), a mediator of immune cell trafficking, on the brain vasculature. Taken together, we here describe age-related immune cell changes in the mouse brain and circulation and show that age-associated systemic factors induce the expansion of CD8+ T cells in the aged brain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-411
Number of pages17
JournalBrain, behavior, and immunity
Early online date9 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023


  • Aging
  • Microglia
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Systemic factors
  • T cells

Cite this