Regulating the immune system: the induction of regulatory T cells in the periphery

Arthritis Res Ther. 2004;6(5):215-22. doi: 10.1186/ar1226. Epub 2004 Aug 11.


The immune system has evolved a variety of mechanisms to achieve and maintain tolerance both centrally and in the periphery. Central tolerance is achieved through negative selection of autoreactive T cells, while peripheral tolerance is achieved primarily via three mechanisms: activation-induced cell death, anergy, and the induction of regulatory T cells. Three forms of these regulatory T cells have been described: those that function via the production of the cytokine IL-10 (T regulatory 1 cells), transforming growth factor beta (Th3 cells), and a population of T cells that suppresses proliferation via a cell-contact-dependent mechanism (CD4+CD25+ TR cells). The present review focuses on the third form of peripheral tolerance - the induction of regulatory T cells. The review will address the induction of the three types of regulatory T cells, the mechanisms by which they suppress T-cell responses in the periphery, the role they play in immune homeostasis, and the potential these cells have as therapeutic agents in immune-mediated disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Immune Tolerance / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*