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J Immunol. 2002 Feb 1;168(3):1069-79.

Regulatory T cells overexpress a subset of Th2 gene transcripts.

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  • 1Therapeutic Immunology Group, Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RE, UK.


There is now compelling evidence for subpopulations of CD4+ T cells whose role is to prevent immune pathology in both autoimmunity and transplantation. We have cloned CD4+ T cells against a male transplantation Ag that, unlike Th1 or Th2 clones, suppresses the rejection of male skin grafts and are therefore considered examples of regulatory T cells. We have identified, using serial analysis of gene expression, transcripts that are overexpressed in regulatory T cells compared with Th1 and Th2 clones. Some of these transcripts are increased in tolerated rather than rejecting skin grafts and in addition are expressed by the natural regulatory CD4+CD25+ subpopulation of naive mice. These genes include prepro-enkephalin, GM2 ganglioside activator protein, glucocorticoid-induced TNFR superfamily member 18, and integrin alpha(E)beta(7). They seem to represent a subset of transcripts shared with Th2 cells, suggesting that transplantation tolerance and normal immunoregulation may represent a unique form of Th2-like differentiation.

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