Treg cells in autoimmunity: from identification to Treg-based therapies

Semin Immunopathol. 2019 May;41(3):301-314. doi: 10.1007/s00281-019-00741-8. Epub 2019 Apr 5.


Regulatory (Treg) cells are key regulators of inflammation and important for immune tolerance and homeostasis. A major progress has been made in the identification and classification of Treg cells. Due to technological advances, we have gained deep insights in the epigenetic regulation of Treg cells. The use of fate reporter mice allowed addressing the functional consequences of loss of Foxp3 expression. Depending on the environment Treg cells gain effector functions upon loss of Foxp3 expression. However, the traditional view that Treg cells become necessarily pathogenic by gaining effector functions was challenged by recent findings and supports the notion of Treg cell lineage plasticity. Treg cell stability is also a major issue for Treg cell therapies. Clinical trials are designed to use polyclonal Treg cells as therapeutic tools. Here, we summarize the role of Treg cells in selected autoimmune diseases and recent advances in the field of Treg targeted therapies.

Keywords: Autoimmunity; Foxp3; Regulatory T cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / etiology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / metabolism
  • Autoimmune Diseases / therapy
  • Autoimmunity*
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Cell Plasticity / immunology
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism