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Nat Immunol. 2005 Apr;6(4):327-30.

Natural regulatory T cells and self-tolerance.

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Ronald H. Schwartz is with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


The adaptive immune system allows individual organisms to mount defensive reactions against unanticipated pathogens by developmentally creating a diverse repertoire of clonally distributed receptors capable of recognizing a multitude of antigens and then expanding as effector cell populations those that can recognize molecules from the pathogens. To function properly, the system must deal with the problem of randomly generated receptors that can recognize self components. Most solutions to this self-tolerance problem are cell intrinsic and involve the deletion or inactivation of autoreactive cells. However, an extrinsic form of dominant tolerance has been demonstrated that takes the form of CD4(+) regulatory T cells. This perspective discusses why such a mechanism might have evolved and the problems it presents for self-non-self discrimination.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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