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J Immunol. 2004 May 15;172(10):5986-93.

IL-10-secreting regulatory T cells do not express Foxp3 but have comparable regulatory function to naturally occurring CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells.

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Division of Immunoregulation, The National Institute for Medical Research, London, United Kingdom.


Regulatory T cells (T(Reg)) control immune responses to self and nonself Ags. The relationship between Ag-driven IL-10-secreting T(Reg) (IL-10-T(Reg)) and naturally occurring CD4(+)CD25(+) T(Reg) is as yet unclear. We show that mouse IL-10-T(Reg) obtained using either in vitro or in vivo regimens of antigenic stimulation did not express the CD4(+)CD25(+) T(Reg)-associated transcription factor Foxp3. However, despite the absence of Foxp3 expression, homogeneous populations of IL-10-T(Reg) inhibited the in vitro proliferation of CD4(+)CD25(-) T cells with a similar efficiency to that of CD4(+)CD25(+) T(Reg). This inhibition of T cell proliferation by IL-10-T(Reg) was achieved through an IL-10-independent mechanism as seen for CD4(+)CD25(+) T(Reg) and was overcome by exogenous IL-2. Both IL-10-T(Reg) and CD4(+)CD25(+) T(Reg) were similar in that they produced little to no IL-2. These data show that Foxp3 expression is not a prerequisite for IL-10-T(Reg) activity in vitro or in vivo, and suggest that IL-10-T(Reg) and naturally occurring CD4(+)CD25(+) T(Reg) may have distinct origins.

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