Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Exp Med. 2011 Jul 4;208(7):1485-99. doi: 10.1084/jem.20100730. Epub 2011 Jun 13.

Foxp3-positive macrophages display immunosuppressive properties and promote tumor growth.

Author information

  • 1Department of Immunology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic Arizona, Scottsdale, AZ 85259, USA.


Regulatory T cells (T reg cells) are characterized by the expression of the forkhead lineage-specific transcription factor Foxp3, and their main function is to suppress T cells. While evaluating T reg cells, we identified a population of Foxp3-positive cells that were CD11b(+)F4/80(+)CD68(+), indicating macrophage origin. These cells were observed in spleen, lymph nodes, bone marrow, thymus, liver, and other tissues of naive animals. To characterize this subpopulation of macrophages, we devised a strategy to purify CD11b(+)F4/80(+)Foxp3(+) macrophages using Foxp3-GFP mice. Analysis of CD11b(+)F4/80(+)Foxp3(+) macrophage function indicated that these cells inhibited the proliferation of T cells, whereas Foxp3(-) macrophages did not. Suppression of T cell proliferation was mediated through soluble factors. Foxp3(-) macrophages acquired Foxp3 expression after activation, which conferred inhibitory properties that were indistinguishable from natural Foxp3(+) macrophages. The cytokine and transcriptional profiles of Foxp3(+) macrophages were distinct from those of Foxp3(-) macrophages, indicating that these cells have different biological functions. Functional in vivo analyses indicated that CD11b(+)F4/80(+)Foxp3(+) macrophages are important in tumor promotion and the induction of T reg cell conversion. For the first time, these studies demonstrate the existence of a distinct subpopulation of naturally occurring macrophage regulatory cells in which expression of Foxp3 correlates with suppressive function.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk