Generation of potent and stable human CD4+ T regulatory cells by activation-independent expression of FOXP3

Mol Ther. 2008 Jan;16(1):194-202. doi: 10.1038/ Epub 2007 Nov 6.


Therapies based on enhancing the numbers and/or function of T regulatory cells (Tregs) represent one of the most promising approaches to restoring tolerance in many immune-mediated diseases. Several groups have investigated whether human Tregs suitable for cellular therapy can be obtained by in vitro expansion, in vitro conversion of conventional T cells into Tregs, or gene transfer of the FOXP3 transcription factor. To date, however, none of these approaches has resulted in a homogeneous and stable population of cells that is as potently suppressive as ex vivo Tregs. We developed a lentivirus-based strategy to ectopically express high levels of FOXP3 that do not fluctuate with the state of T-cell activation. This method consistently results in the development of suppressive cells that are as potent as Tregs and can be propagated as a homogeneous population. Moreover, using this system, both naïve and memory CD4(+) T cells can be efficiently converted into Tregs. To date, this is the most efficient and reliable protocol for generating large numbers of suppressive CD4(+) Tregs, which can be used for further biological study and developed for antigen-specific cellular therapy applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Clonal Anergy / genetics
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / biosynthesis*
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Humans
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Lentivirus / genetics
  • Lymphocyte Activation / genetics*
  • Mice
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism*
  • Terminal Repeat Sequences


  • FOXP3 protein, human
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors