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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Oct 1;99(20):13031-6. Epub 2002 Sep 19.

Expression of the integrin alpha Ebeta 7 identifies unique subsets of CD25+ as well as CD25- regulatory T cells.

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  • 1Experimentelle Rheumatologie, Universitätsklinikum Charité, Humboldt-Universität, c/o Deutsches Rheumaforschungszentrum, 10117 Berlin, Germany.


Regulatory CD25(+)CD4(+) T cells are considered as important players in T cell homeostasis and self-tolerance. Here we report that the integrin alpha(E)beta(7), which recognizes epithelial cadherin, identifies the most potent subpopulation of regulatory CD25(+) T cells. Strikingly, CD25-negative alpha(E)+CD4(+) T cells displayed regulatory activity. Both alpha(E)+ subsets, CD25(+) and CD25(-), express CTLA-4, suppress T cell proliferation in vitro, and protect mice from colitis in the severe combined immunodeficient model (SCID) in vivo. Whereas alpha(E)+CD25(+) T cells produce almost no cytokines, alpha(E)+CD25(-) T cells represent a unique subset in which high IL-2, IFN-gamma and T helper 2-cytokine production is linked with suppressive function. Thus, the integrin alpha(E)beta(7) can be regarded as a novel marker for subsets of highly potent, functionally distinct regulatory T cells specialized for crosstalk with epithelial environments.

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