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Supercentenarians, people who have reached 110 years of age, are a great model of healthy aging. Their characteristics of delayed onset of age-related diseases and compression of morbidity imply that their immune system remains functional. Here we performed single-cell transcriptome analysis of 61,202 peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), derived from seven supercentenarians and five younger controls. We identified a marked increase of cytotoxic CD4 T-cells (CD4 CTLs) coupled with a substantial reduction of B-cells as a novel signature of supercentenarians. Furthermore, single-cell T-cell receptor sequencing of two supercentenarians revealed that CD4 CTLs had accumulated through massive clonal expansion, with the most frequent clonotypes accounting for 15% to 35% of the entire CD4 T-cell population. The CD4 CTLs exhibited substantial heterogeneity in their degree of cytotoxicity as well as a nearly identical transcriptome to that of CD8 CTLs. This indicates that CD4 CTLs utilize the transcriptional program of the CD8 lineage while retaining CD4 expression. Our study reveals that supercentenarians have unique characteristics in their circulating lymphocytes, which may represent an essential adaptation to achieve exceptional longevity by sustaining immune responses to infections and diseases.

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