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J Immunol. 2009 Mar 1;182(5):2929-38. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0803827.

Analysis of adhesion molecules, target cells, and role of IL-2 in human FOXP3+ regulatory T cell suppressor function.

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Laboratory of Immunology, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


FOXP3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) are central to the maintenance of self-tolerance and immune homeostasis. The mechanisms of action and cellular targets for Treg-mediated suppression remain controversial. The critical adhesion molecules utilized by Tregs for the interaction with their target cells have not been well characterized. We show that human CD4(+)FOXP3(+)CD25(high) cells (hTregs) suppress the activation of mouse responders as efficiently as mouse Tregs. LFA-1 (CD11a/CD18) on the hTregs is critical for their suppressor function, since suppression can be reversed with blocking anti-hCD11a or anti-hCD18 mAb. Tregs from patients with LFA-1 deficiency fail to suppress human and mouse responders. Mouse CD4(+) T cells deficient in ICAM-1 can be suppressed by hTregs, indicating that the hTregs target mouse dendritic cells (DCs) through the binding of human LFA-1 to mouse ICAM-1. Coculture of mouse DCs with hTregs, but not hTregs from LFA-1-deficient patients, prevented the up-regulation of CD80/CD86 on the DCs and their capacity to activate responder T cells. Lastly, IL-2 is not required for hTreg suppressor function under optimal stimulatory condition and IL-2 consumption plays no role in hTreg-mediated suppression. Taken together, one of the mechanisms of Treg-mediated suppression functions across species and mediates an LFA-1/ICAM-1-dependent interaction between Tregs and DCs.

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