Therapeutic use of regulatory T cells for graft-versus-host disease

Br J Haematol. 2019 Oct;187(1):25-38. doi: 10.1111/bjh.16157. Epub 2019 Aug 16.


Regulatory T cells (Treg cells) represent a CD4+ T-cell lineage that plays a critical role in restraining immune responses to self and foreign antigens and associated inflammation. Due to the suppressive function of Treg cells, inhibition or ablation of these cells can be used to boost the immunity against malignant cells. On the other hand, augmenting the activity of Treg cells can be employed for the treatment of inflammatory or autoimmune diseases and allogeneic conflicts associated with transplantation. Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality after haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). In this review, we describe basic biological properties of Treg cells and their role in GvHD. We focus on the application of adoptive transfer of Treg cells and the therapeutic modulation of their activity for the prevention and treatment of GvHD in pre-clinical models and in clinical settings. We also discuss the main obstacles to applying Treg cell-based therapies for GvHD in clinical practice.

Keywords: IL-2; graft-versus-host disease; immunotherapy; rapamycin; treg cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / therapy
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Graft vs Host Disease / immunology
  • Graft vs Host Disease / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive / methods
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Transfusion / methods*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / transplantation*