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J Exp Med. 2009 May 11;206(5):1009-17. doi: 10.1084/jem.20082238. Epub 2009 May 4.

Identification and characterization of IL-10/IFN-gamma-producing effector-like T cells with regulatory function in human blood.

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Charité Research Centre for ImmunoSciences and German Rheumatism Research Center, Campus Charité Mitte, 10117 Berlin, Germany.


Two subsets of natural and adaptive regulatory T (T reg) cells have been described, but the identity of adaptive type 1 regulatory (Tr1)-like cells in humans is unclear. We analyzed a subset of human blood CD4(+) T cells--CD45RA(-)CD25(-)interleukin (IL)-7 receptor (R)(-) cells--that rapidly secreted high levels of IL-10 together with interferon gamma, but produced little IL-2. These IL-7R(-) T cells were rare, anergic, and largely Foxp3(-). They expressed low levels of Bcl-2 but high levels of Ki-67 and ICOS, suggesting that they have been recently activated in vivo. Consistently, they responded selectively to persistent foreign and self-antigens under steady-state conditions. Unlike natural CD25(+) T reg cells, IL-7R(-) cells suppressed naive and memory T cell proliferation in an IL-10-dependent fashion, and they required strong T cell receptor stimulation for suppression. To our knowledge, this is the first report that identifies Tr1-like cells in human blood. These IL-10-secreting cells have characteristics of chronically activated Th1 effector cells and are distinct from CD25(+) T reg cells.

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