Regulatory T cells and their role in type 1 diabetes

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Purpose of review

The discovery of a subpopulation of CD4+ T cells critical for the control of lethal lymphoproliferative and autoimmune disease in the early 1980s opened the door to a whole new realm of generating a tolerant immune system. These regulatory T cells develop in the thymus and can be induced under certain circumstances in the periphery. They express a unique constellation of cell-surface and lineage-specific markers, and exert potent suppressive effect on adaptive and innate immunity in vivo.

Recent findings

Recent work has aimed to clarify the unique markers of regulatory T cells as well as the mechanisms by which they mediate their suppressive function in various disease settings such as autoimmunity, transplantation and infectious diseases. Here, we summarize the major findings in the field of regulatory T cells biology with emphasis on the past year's publications and conclude with a discussion on the role of regulatory T cells in type 1 autoimmune diabetes.


As regulatory T cells are a vital component to self tolerance, understanding their function will help to elucidate disease pathogenesis and to design novel therapeutic interventions to restore normal immune homeostasis in patients.

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