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Trends Immunol. 2002 Sep;23(9):450-5.

Pathogen-specific regulatory T cells provoke a shift in the Th1/Th2 paradigm in immunity to infectious diseases.

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Immune Regulation Research Group, Department of Biochemistry, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland.


Current dogma suggests that immunity to infection is controlled by distinct type 1 (Th1) and type 2 (Th2) subpopulations of T cells discriminated on the basis of cytokine secretion and function. However, a further subtype of T cells, with immunosuppressive function and cytokine profiles distinct from either Th1 or Th2 T cells, termed regulatory T (Tr) cells has been described. Although considered to have a role in the maintenance of self-tolerance, recent studies suggest that Tr cells can be induced against bacterial, viral and parasite antigens in vivo and might prevent infection-induced immunopathology or prolong pathogen persistence by suppressing protective Th1 responses. These observations have significant implications for our understanding of the role of T cells in immunity to infectious diseases and for the development of new therapies for immune-mediated disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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