Stability and Maintenance of Foxp3+ Treg Cells in Non-lymphoid Microenvironments

Front Immunol. 2019 Nov 14;10:2634. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.02634. eCollection 2019.


Foxp3+ Treg cells are indispensable for maintaining self-tolerance in secondary lymphoid organs (SLOs). However, Treg cells are also recruited to non-lymphoid tissues (NLTs) during inflammation. Recent advances in the understanding of Treg cell biology provided us with molecular mechanisms-both transcriptional and epigenetic-that enable Treg cells to retain their identity in an inflammatory milieu that is per se hostile to sustained expression of high levels of Foxp3. While Treg cells are recruited to sites of inflammation in order to resolve inflammation and re-establish appropriate organ function, it is increasingly recognized that a series of inflammatory (but also non-inflammatory) perturbations of organ function lead to the constitution of relatively long lived populations of Treg cells in NLTs. NLT Treg cells are heterogeneous according to their respective site of residence and it will be an important goal of future investigations to determine how these NLT Treg cells are maintained, e.g., what the role of antigen recognition by NLT Treg cells is and which growth factors are responsible for their self-renewal in the relative deficiency of IL-2. Finally, it is an open question what functions NLT Treg cells have besides their role in maintaining immunologic tolerance. In this review, we will highlight and summarize major ideas on the biology of NLT Treg cells (in the central nervous system but also at other peripheral sites) during inflammation and in steady state.

Keywords: Foxp3; Treg—regulatory T cell; central nervous system; heterogeneity; non-lymphoid tissues; stability.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / immunology
  • Homeostasis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*


  • Forkhead Transcription Factors