Purpose of review: The identification and characterisation of regulatory T cells (Tregs) has recently opened up exciting opportunities for Treg cell therapy in transplantation. In this review, we outline the basic biology of Tregs and discuss recent advances and challenges for the identification, isolation and expansion of these cells for cell therapy.
Recent findings: Tregs of thymic origin have been shown to be key regulators of immune responses in mice and humans, preventing autoimmunity, graft-versus-host disease and organ graft rejection in the transplantation setting. To date, a variety of different methods to isolate and expand Tregs ex vivo have been advocated. Although promising, relatively few clinical trials of human Treg cell infusion have been initiated.
Summary: Many key questions about Treg cell therapy still remain and here we provide an in-depth analysis and highlight the challenges and opportunities for immune intervention with Treg-based therapeutics in clinical transplantation.