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J Immunol. 2011 Oct 1;187(7):3895-903. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1100394. Epub 2011 Aug 29.

Human natural regulatory T cell development, suppressive function, and postthymic maturation in a humanized mouse model.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Transplantation Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


CD4(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) control adaptive immune responses and promote self-tolerance. Various humanized mouse models have been developed in efforts to reproduce and study a human immune system. However, in models that require T cell differentiation in the recipient murine thymus, only low numbers of T cells populate the peripheral immune systems. T cells are positively selected by mouse MHC and therefore do not function well in an HLA-restricted manner. In contrast, cotransplantation of human fetal thymus/liver and i.v. injection of CD34(+) cells from the same donor achieves multilineage human lymphohematopoietic reconstitution, including dendritic cells and formation of secondary lymphoid organs, in NOD/SCID mice. Strong Ag-specific immune responses and homeostatic expansion of human T cells that are dependent on peripheral human APCs occur. We now demonstrate that FOXP3(+)Helios(+) "natural" Tregs develop normally in human fetal thymic grafts and are present in peripheral blood, spleen, and lymph nodes of these humanized mice. Humanized mice exhibit normal reversal of CD45 isoform expression in association with thymic egress, postthymic "naive" to "activated" phenotypic conversion, and suppressive function. These studies demonstrate the utility of this humanized mouse model for the study of human Treg ontogeny, immunobiology and therapy.

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