Regulatory T cells can migrate to follicles upon T cell activation and suppress GC-Th cells and GC-Th cell-driven B cell responses

J Clin Invest. 2004 Dec;114(11):1640-9. doi: 10.1172/JCI22325.


How Tregs migrate to GCs, and whether they regulate the helper activity of the T cells in GCs (GC-Th cells) remains poorly understood. We found a T cell subset in human tonsils that displays potent suppressive activities toward GC-Th cell-dependent B cell responses. These Tregs with the surface phenotype of CD4+CD25+CD69- migrate well to CCL19, a chemokine expressed in the T cell zone, but poorly to CXCL13, a chemokine expressed in the B cell zone. This migration toward the T cell-rich zone rapidly changes to trafficking toward B cell follicles upon T cell activation. This change in chemotactic behavior upon activation of T cells is consistent with their switch in the expression of the 2 chemokine receptors CXCR5 and CCR7. CD4+CD25+CD69- Tregs suppress GC-Th cells and GC-Th cell-induced B cell responses such as Ig production, survival, and expression of activation-induced cytosine deaminase. Our results have identified a subset of Tregs that is physiologically relevant to GC-Th cell-dependent B cell responses and a potential regulation mechanism for the trafficking of these Tregs to GCs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Chemokines / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Palatine Tonsil / cytology*
  • Palatine Tonsil / immunology
  • Receptors, Chemokine / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets*
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology


  • Antigens, CD
  • Chemokines
  • Receptors, Chemokine