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J Immunol. 2006 Jul 15;177(2):840-51.

Regulation of trafficking receptor expression in human forkhead box P3+ regulatory T cells.

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  • 1Laboratory of Immunology and Hematopoiesis, Department of Pathobiology, Purdue Cancer Center, Purdue University, 725 Harrison Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.


Forkhead Box P3(+) (FOXP3(+)) T cells are regulatory cells important for maintaining immune tolerance. While chemokine- and other homing-receptors are important for T cell migration, it has been unclear how they are regulated in FOXP3(+) T cells. We thoroughly investigated, ex vivo and in vitro, the regulation of chemokine receptor expression on human FOXP3(+) T cells in neonatal cord blood, adult peripheral blood, and tonsils. We found that human FOXP3(+) T cells undergo changes in trafficking receptors according to their stages of activation and differentiation. FOXP3(+) T cells are divided into CD45RA(+) (naive type) and CD45RO(+) (memory type) FOXP3(+) T cells in neonatal blood, adult blood, and tonsils. CD45RA(+)FOXP3(+) T cells mainly express lymphoid tissue homing receptors (CD62L, CCR7, and CXCR4), while CD45RO(+)FOXP3(+) T cells highly express both Th1 and Th2-associated trafficking receptors along with the lymphoid tissue homing receptors at reduced frequencies. Up-regulation of Th1/Th2-associated trafficking receptors begins with activation of CD45RA(+)FOXP3(+) T cells and is completed after their differentiation to CD45RO(+) cells. Some chemokine receptors such as CXCR5 and CXCR6 are preferentially expressed by many FOXP3(+) cells at a specific stage (CD69(+)CD45RO(+)) in tonsils. Our in vitro differentiation study demonstrated that CD45RA(+)FOXP3(+) T cells indeed undergo chemokine receptor switch from CD45RA(+) (secondary lymphoid tissue homing) to CD45RO(+) type (lymphoid and nonlymphoid tissue homing). The orderly regulation of trafficking receptors in FOXP3(+) T cells according to stages of differentiation and activation is potentially important for their tissue-specific migration and regulation of immune responses in humans.

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