Authors: (Peter C.J. Janson, Ola Winqvist, Department of Medicine, Clinical Allergy Research Unit, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden)
Abstract: Development of alternative CD4+ T cells provides flexibility to the immune system. This is crucial for the initiation of appropriate effector mechanisms to protect against various pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, tumors and parasites. Research on the epigenetic regulation of T cell subsets during the past years have increased our understanding of how the alternative effector populations arise and how their identity is maintained during clonal expansion . The regulatory T cell subset is essential for the maintenance of peripheral tolerance. Naturally occurring regulatory T cells (referred to in this article as nTregs) develop from CD4-single positive thymocytes, and migrate to the periphery where they prevent autoimmunity by suppressing the activity of self-reactive T cells that have escaped elimination during thymic maturation [2, 3]. A regulatory phenotype can also be induced from na´ve T cells, either when antigens are encountered during sub-immunogenic conditions, or in the presence of TGF-β, or Retinoic Acid. These are the so called induced regulatory T cells (iTregs), and the function of these cells is believed to be especially important for acquired tolerance to food antigens .
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