Regulatory T Cell Plasticity and Stability and Autoimmune Diseases

AbstractCD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) are a class of CD4+ T cells with immunosuppressive functions that play a critical role in maintaining immune homeostasis. However, in certain disease settings, Tregs demonstrate plastic differentiation, and the stability of these Tregs, which is characterized by the stable expression or protective epigenetic modifications of the transcription factor Foxp3, becomes abnormal. Plastic Tregs have some features of helper T (Th) cells, such as the secretion of Th-related cytokines and the expression of specific transcription factors in Th cells, but also still retain the expression of Foxp3, a feature of Tregs. Although such Th-like Tregs can secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines, they still possess a strong ability to inhibit specific Th cell responses. Therefore, the plastic differentiation of Tregs not only increases the complexity of the immune circumstances under pathological conditions, especially autoimmune diseases, but also shows an association with changes in the stability of Tregs. The plastic differentiation and stability change of Tregs play vital roles in the progression of diseases. This review focuses on the phenotypic characteristics, functions, and formation conditions of several plastic Tregs and also summarizes the changes of Treg stability and their effects on inhibitory function. Additionally, the effects of Treg plasticity and stability on disease prognosis for several autoimmune diseases were also investigated in ord...
Source: Clinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology - Category: Allergy & Immunology Source Type: research

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