Aging is a natural process involving dysfunction of multiple organs and is characterized by increased susceptibility to infections, cancer and autoimmune diseases. The functionality of the immune system depends on the capacity of lymphocytes to proliferate in response to antigenic challenges, and telomere length has an important role regulating the number of cell divisions. The aim of this study was to determine the possible relationship between telomere length, interleukin 2 (IL-2) production, CD25 expression and proliferation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in aged men.

Material and methods:
Telomere length was measured by RT-PCR in PBMCs from young and aged men. IL-2 production and CD25 expression were determined by ELISA and flow cytometry, respectively. Cell proliferation was measured by CFSE dilution assays upon in vitro stimulation with concanava­lin A (Con A).

PBMCs from aged men showed a shorter telomere length and a reduced capacity to proliferate in vitro, compared to young men. In contrast, no significant differences in the level of CD25 expression on T lymphocytes, and in vitro production of IL-2 were detected in both groups. In addition, no significant correlation was detected between levels of CD25 expression, IL-2 production, cell proliferation, and telomere length in aged men.

In aged men the telomere length shortening and the reduced T cell proliferation are not related to the capacity of IL-2 production and CD25 expression on T lymphocytes.