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Clin Immunol. 2004 Sep;112(3):258-67.

CD4+CD25+ T regulatory cells inhibit cytotoxic activity of T CD8+ and NK lymphocytes in the direct cell-to-cell interaction.

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Department of Histology and Immunology, Medical University, Gdańsk, Poland.


There are reports suggesting an influence of CD4(+)CD25(+) T regulatory cells (Treg) on cytotoxic lymphocytes. The aim of the study was to evaluate such an influence. Cytotoxic activity was examined in the cultures of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) as well as in the cultures of separate T CD8(+) or NK cells mixed with Treg and other subpopulations of PBMC. We found that the production of IFNgamma, perforin and cytotoxic activity of T CD8(+) or NK cells were decreased in the presence of Treg, however, the percentage of conjugates formed by cytotoxic cells with target cells during cytotoxic reaction was decreased only in the cultures of T CD8(+) cells. Inhibition of the cytotoxic reactions in the presence of Treg cells was found to be associated with the generation of conglomerates formed by CD4(+)CD25(+) and the cytotoxic cells, as observed under the fluorescence microscope. Treg produced IL10 when mixed with the cytotoxic lymphocytes, however, an addition of anti-IL10 mAb into the cultures did not affect the results. It is concluded that Treg were able to inhibit both T CD8+ and NK lymphocyte cytotoxic activities in a direct cell-to-cell interaction. Treg decreased the number of T CD8+ cells attached to the target cells, while the mechanism underlying a decrease in NK cytotoxicity remained unclear.

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