Regulatory T cells

Author: V. Dimov, M.D., Allergist/Immunologist and Assistant Professor at University of Chicago
Reviewer: S. Randhawa, M.D., Allergist/Immunologist and Assistant Professor at LSU (Shreveport) Department of Allergy and Immunology

These cells were formerly known as suppressor T cells. The "classic" T regulatory cells (T-regs) express CD4, CD25 and FOXP3.

FOXP3 (forkhead box P3) functions as the master regulator in the development and function of regulatory T cells. FOX (forkhead box) proteins are a family of transcription factors that play important roles in regulating the expression of genes involved in cell growth, proliferation, differentiation, and longevity. The fork head domain is a type of protein domain which is often found in transcription factors and whose purpose is to bind DNA.

CD25 is interleukin-2 receptor alpha chain (IL-2Ra). The IL-2 receptor (IL-2R) was the first interleukin receptor to be described and characterized. Daclizumab (Zenapax) is a humanized monoclonal antibody to the alpha subunit of the IL-2 receptor of T cells (anti-IL2Ra). It is used to prevent rejection in organ transplantation, especially in kidney transplants.

Regulatory T cells - 5 groups have been described as of year 2010:

- CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells ("classic" T regs)
- TR1 cells, CD4 cells that secrete IL-10
- Th3 cells, a subset of CD4+ cells that secrete TGF-b
- CD8+ suppressor T cells
- γ/δ T cells

Regulatory T cells - 6 groups have been described as of year 2010 (click to enlarge the image).

Related reading

Redirecting T Cells - NEJM, 2011.

Published: 06/28/2010
Updated: 07/16/2011

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