Regulatory T cells: present facts and future hopes

Med Microbiol Immunol. 2006 Sep;195(3):113-24. doi: 10.1007/s00430-006-0017-y. Epub 2006 May 20.


Naturally occurring CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells and several subsets of induced suppressor T cells are key players of the immune tolerance network and control the induction and effector phase of our immunological defense system. These T cell populations actively control the properties of other immune cells by suppressing their functional activity to prevent autoimmunity and transplant rejection but also influence the immune response to allergens as well as against tumor cells and pathogens. Even though we are far from completely understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms that manage the different regulatory T cell populations, increasing evidence exists about their functional importance. The knowledge on their induction and activation opens the possibility for their selective manipulation in vivo as an attractive approach for an immunotherapy of unwanted immune responses. This review summarizes this knowledge and discusses the potential of regulatory T cells for novel immunointervention strategies in the future.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*