CD4+ regulatory T cells: Mechanisms of induction and effector function

Rosa Bacchetta, Silvia Gregori, Maria Grazia Roncarolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The main subsets of CD4+ regulatory T (Tr) cells are the CD4+ CD25+ Tr cells and the type 1 regulatory (Tr1) cells. Both subsets are essential for the maintenance of peripheral tolerance. CD4+ CD25+ Tr cells control immune homeostasis (e.g., in autoimmunity) mainly by cell contact-dependent interactions. In contrast, Tr1 cells regulate immune responses in transplantation, allergy, and autoimmune diseases, via an IL-10- and TGF-beta-dependent mechanism. Identification of the mechanisms responsible for the induction of the different Tr subsets in vivo is a matter of intense investigation. Studies on dendritic cells (DC), performed in the last years by several groups, have significantly contributed to clarify this point. Indeed, it is now clear that the role of DCs is not only to sense danger, but also to tolerize the immune system to antigens (Ags) encountered in the absence of maturation/inflammatory stimuli. Therefore, if a naïve T cell encounters the antigen on immature DCs (iDCs), it differentiates into a Tr cell rather than an effector T cell. A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the induction and functions of Tr cells in controlling the immune system is critical in view of a future cellular therapy to modulate immune-mediated pathologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-496
Number of pages6
JournalAutoimmunity Reviews
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005


  • Anergy
  • FOXP3
  • GVHD
  • IL-10
  • Tolerogenic DC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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