Regulation of FoxP3 regulatory T cells and Th17 cells by retinoids

Clin Dev Immunol. 2008;2008:416910. doi: 10.1155/2008/416910.


Vitamin A has both positive and negative regulatory functions in the immune system. While vitamin A is required for normal formation of immune cells and epithelial cell barriers, vitamin A deficiency can lead to increased inflammatory responses and tissue damage. The mechanism with which vitamin A and its metabolites such as retinoids negatively regulate inflammatory responses has not been clearly defined. Recently, it has been established that retinoids promote the generation of immune-suppressive FoxP3+ regulatory T cells while they suppress the T cell differentiation into inflammatory Th17 cells in the periphery such as intestine. These novel functions of retinoids provide a potentially important immune regulatory mechanism. In this review, we discuss the functions of retinoids in the development of the FoxP3+ cells and Th17 cells, the phenotype and functions of retinoid-induced FoxP3+ T cells, and the impact of retinoid-induced FoxP3+ T cells on the immune tolerance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-17 / biosynthesis*
  • Mice
  • Retinoids / pharmacology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / drug effects*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / drug effects*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism*


  • FOXP3 protein, human
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Interleukin-17
  • Retinoids