Regulatory T cells protect from autoimmune arthritis during pregnancy

Alba Munoz-Suano, Marinos Kallikourdis, Milka Sarris, Alexander G. Betz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pregnancy frequently has a beneficial effect on the autoimmune disease Rheumatoid Arthritis, ranging from improvement in clinical symptoms to complete remission. Despite decades of study, a mechanistic explanation remains elusive. Here, we demonstrate that an analogous pregnancy-induced remission can be observed in a mouse model of arthritis. We demonstrate that during pregnancy mice are protected from collagen-induced arthritis, but are still capable of launching normal immune responses to influenza infections. We examine the role of regulatory T (T R) cells in this beneficial effect. T R cells are essential for many aspects of immune tolerance, including the suppression of autoimmune responses. Remarkably, transfer of regulatory T cells from pregnant 'protected' mice was sufficient to confer protection to non-pregnant mice. These results suggest that regulatory T cells are responsible for the pregnancy-induced amelioration of arthritis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Autoimmunity
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • Mouse model
  • Pregnancy
  • Regulatory T cells
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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