BACKGROUNDThe adaptive immune response requires waves of T-cell clonal expansion on contact with pathogen and elimination after clearance of the source of antigen. However, lifelong persistent infections with common viruses cause chronic antigenic stimulation which takes its toll on adaptive immunity in late life. Chronic antigenic stress results in deregulation of the T-cell response and accumulation of anergic cells. Longitudinal studies of the elderly show that this impacts on survival. Identifying the nature of the defects in chronically-stimulated T-cells and protein bio-markers of these dysfunctional cells would help to understand age-associated compromised T-cell function (immunosenescence) and facilitate the development of targeted intervention strategies.The purpose of this work was to use surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (SELDI-TOF-MS) to analyse proteins associated with T-cell senescence in order to identify potential bio-markers. Clonal populations of T-cells isolated from elderly octogenarian and centenarian donors were grown in vitro until senescence, and early passage and late passage (pre-senescent) cells were analysed using SELDI-TOF-MS ProteinChip arrays.RESULTSDiscriminant analysis identified several protein or peptide peaks in the region of 14.5-16.5 kDa that were associated with T-cell clone senescence. Human profilin-1, a ubiquitous protein associated with actin remodelling and cellular motility was unambiguously identified. Altered expression of profilin-1 in senescent T-cell clones was confirmed by Western blot analysis.CONCLUSIONDue to the proposed roles of profilin-1 in cellular survival, cytoskeleton remodelling, motility, and proliferation, it is hypothesised that differential expression of profilin-1 in ageing may contribute directly to immunosenescence.