Identification of Circulating Human Antigen-Reactive CD4(+) FOXP3(+) Natural Regulatory T Cells

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Circulating human CD4(+)CD25(++)CD127(-)FOXP3(+) T cells with a persistent demethylated regulatory T cell (Treg)-specific demethylated region Foxp3 gene are considered natural Tregs (nTregs). We have shown that it is possible to identify functional Ag-reactive nTregs cells for a range of different common viral and vaccination Ags. The frequency of these Ag-reactive nTregs within the nTreg population is strikingly similar to the frequency of Ag-reactive T effector cells within the CD4(+) T cell population. The Ag-reactive nTregs could be recognized with great specificity by induction of CD154 expression. These CD154(+) Ag-reactive nTregs showed a memory phenotype and shared all phenotypical and functional characteristics of nTregs. The isolated CD154(+) nTregs could be most efficiently expanded by specific antigenic stimulation, while their Ag-reactive suppressive activity was maintained. After an in vivo booster Ag challenge, the ratio of Ag-reactive T cells to Ag-reactive Tregs increased substantially, which could be attributed to the rise in effector T cells but not Tregs. In conclusion, the nTreg population mirrors the effector T cell population in the frequency of Ag-reactive T cells. Isolation and expansion of functional Ag-reactive nTregs is possible and of potential benefit for specific therapeutic goals. The Journal of Immunology, 2012, 188: 1083-1090.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1083-1090
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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