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Mol Med Rep. 2013 Jan;7(1):159-65. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2012.1150. Epub 2012 Oct 24.

Macrophages overexpressing Aire induce CD4+Foxp3+ T cells.

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Department of Immunology, Norman Bethune College of Medicine, Jilin University, Changchun, PR China.


Aire plays an important role in central immune tolerance by regulating the transcription of thousands of genes. However, the role of Aire in the peripheral immune system is poorly understood. Regulatory T (Treg) cells are considered essential for the maintenance of peripheral tolerance, but the effect of Aire on Treg cells in the peripheral immune system is currently unknown. In this study, we investigated the effects of macrophages overexpressing Aire on CD4+Foxp3+ Treg cells by co-culturing Aire-overexpressing RAW264.7 cells or their supernatant with splenocytes. The results show that macrophages overexpressing Aire enhanced the expression of Foxp3 mRNA and induced different subsets of Treg cells in splenocytes through cell-cell contact or a co-culture supernatants. TGF-β is a key molecule in the increases of CD4+CD45RA+Foxp3hi T cell and activating Treg (aTreg) levels observed following cell‑supernatant co-culturing. Subsets of Treg cells were induced by Aire-overexpressing macrophages, and the manipulation of Treg cells by the targeting of Aire may provide a method for the treatment of inflammatory or autoimmune diseases.

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