Memory of Inflammation in Regulatory T Cells

Cell. 2016 Aug 11;166(4):977-990. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.07.006. Epub 2016 Aug 4.


Eukaryotic cells can "remember" transient encounters with a wide range of stimuli, inducing lasting states of altered responsiveness. Regulatory T (Treg) cells are a specialized lineage of suppressive CD4 T cells that act as critical negative regulators of inflammation in various biological contexts. Treg cells exposed to inflammatory conditions acquire strongly enhanced suppressive function. Using inducible genetic tracing, we analyzed the long-term stability of activation-induced transcriptional, epigenomic, and functional changes in Treg cells. We found that the inflammation-experienced Treg cell population reversed many activation-induced changes and lost its enhanced suppressive function over time. The "memory-less" potentiation of Treg suppressor function may help avoid a state of generalized immunosuppression that could otherwise result from repeated activation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mice
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Chromatin