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J Exp Med. 2003 Sep 1;198(5):737-46. Epub 2003 Aug 25.

Continuous activation of autoreactive CD4+ CD25+ regulatory T cells in the steady state.

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  • 1CNRS UMR 7087, Batiment CERVI, Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière, 83 Boulevard de l'Hôpital, 75013 Paris, France.


Despite a growing interest in CD4+ CD25+ regulatory T cells (Treg) that play a major role in self-tolerance and immunoregulation, fundamental parameters of the biology and homeostasis of these cells are poorly known. Here, we show that this population is composed of two Treg subsets that have distinct phenotypes and homeostasis in normal unmanipulated mice. In the steady state, some Treg remain quiescent and have a long lifespan, in the order of months, whereas the other Treg are dividing extensively and express multiple activation markers. After adoptive transfer, tissue-specific Treg rapidly divide and expand preferentially in lymph nodes draining their target self-antigens. These results reveal the existence of a cycling Treg subset composed of autoreactive Treg that are continuously activated by tissue self-antigens.

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