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It is now clear that functionally specialized regulatory T (Treg) cells exist as part of the normal immune repertoire, preventing the development of pathogenic responses to both self- and intestinal antigens. Here, we report that the Treg cells that control intestinal inflammation express the same phenotype (CD25(+)CD45RB(low)CD4(+)) as those that control autoimmunity. Previous studies have failed to identify how CD25(+) Treg cells function in vivo. Our studies reveal that the immune-suppressive function of these cells in vivo is dependent on signaling via the negative regulator of T cell activation cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4), as well as secretion of the immune-suppressive cytokine transforming growth factor beta. Strikingly, constitutive expression of CTLA-4 among CD4(+) cells was restricted primarily to Treg cells, suggesting that CTLA-4 expression by these cells is involved in their immune-suppressive function. These findings raise the possibility that Treg cell function contributes to the immune suppression characteristic of CTLA-4 signaling. Identification of costimulatory molecules involved in the function of Treg cells may facilitate further characterization of these cells and development of new therapeutic strategies for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.

Original publication

DOI

10.1084/jem.192.2.295

Type

Journal article

Journal

The Journal of Experimental Medicine

Publication Date

07/2000

Volume

192

Pages

295 - 302

Addresses

Oxford University, Nuffield Department of Surgery, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford OX3 9DU, United Kingdom.

Keywords

CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Animals, Mice, Inbred BALB C, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Colitis, Antigens, CD45, Transforming Growth Factor beta, Receptors, Interleukin-2, Antigens, Differentiation, Antigens, CD, Immunoconjugates, T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory, CTLA-4 Antigen