TGF-β activation and function in immunity

Annu Rev Immunol. 2014;32:51-82. doi: 10.1146/annurev-immunol-032713-120257. Epub 2013 Dec 2.


The cytokine TGF-β plays an integral role in regulating immune responses. TGF-β has pleiotropic effects on adaptive immunity, especially in the regulation of effector and regulatory CD4(+) T cell responses. Many immune and nonimmune cells can produce TGF-β, but it is always produced as an inactive complex that must be activated to exert functional effects. Thus, activation of latent TGF-β provides a crucial layer of regulation that controls TGF-β function. In this review, we highlight some of the important functional roles for TGF-β in immunity, focusing on its context-specific roles in either dampening or promoting T cell responses. We also describe how activation of TGF-β controls its function in the immune system, with a focus on the key roles for members of the integrin family in this process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Animals
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology
  • Immunity / physiology*
  • Integrins / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / chemistry
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*


  • Integrins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta