The progress and prospect of regulatory T cells in autoimmune diseases

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Regulatory T cells (Treg) are an important immune cell population, playing a crucial role in regulating immune tolerance and preventing autoimmune diseases. These cells consist of various cell sub-populations and generally have an immunoregulatory or suppressive role against immune responses. They also have a different cell heterogeneity and each populations has own biological characteristics. Treg deficiency, reduction, instability, reduced vitality and dysfunction all account for multiple autoimmune diseases. In this review, we have systemically reviewed Treg classification, phenotypic features, regulation of Foxp3 expression, plasticity and stability of Treg as well as their relationship with several important autoimmune diseases. We particularly focus on why and how inflammatory and diet environments affect the functional capacity and underlying mechanisms of Treg cell populations. We also summarize new advances in technologies which help to analyze and dissect these cells in molecular levels in-depth. We also clarify the possible clinical relevance on application of these cells in patients with autoimmune diseases. The advantages and weaknesses have been carefully discussed as well. We also propose the possible approaches to overcome these weaknesses of Treg cells in complicate environments. Thus, we have displayed the updated knowledge of Treg cells, which provides an overall insight into the role and mechanisms of Treg cells in autoimmune diseases.




Zhang, X., Olsen, N., & Zheng, S. G. (2020). The progress and prospect of regulatory T cells in autoimmune diseases. Journal of Autoimmunity. Academic Press.

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