Control of autoimmunity by naturally arising regulatory CD4+ T cells

Adv Immunol. 2003;81:331-71. doi: 10.1016/s0065-2776(03)81008-8.


Naturally acquired immunological self-tolerance is not entirely accounted for by clonal deletion, anergy, and ignorance. It is now well established that the T cell-repertoire of healthy individuals harbors self-reactive lymphocytes with a potential to cause autoimmune disease and these lymphocytes are under dominant control by a unique subpopulation of CD4+ T cells now called regulatory T cells. Efforts to delineate these Treg cells naturally present in normal individuals have revealed that they are enriched in the CD25+ CD4+ population. The identification of the CD25 molecule as a useful marker for naturally arising CD4+ regulatory T cells has made it possible to investigate many key aspects of their immunobiology, including their antigen specificities and the cellular/molecular pathways involved in their development and their mechanisms of action. Furthermore, reduction or dysfunction of the CD25+ CD4+ regulatory T cell population can be responsible for certain autoimmune diseases in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / etiology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmunity*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Chemokines / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Lymphopenia / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / metabolism
  • Self Tolerance
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2