The progress and prospect of regulatory T cells in autoimmune diseases

Ximei Zhang, Nancy Olsen, Song Guo Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Regulatory T cells (Treg) are an important immune cell population, playing a crucial role in regulating immune tolerance and preventing autoimmune diseases. These cells consist of various cell sub-populations and generally have an immunoregulatory or suppressive role against immune responses. They also have a different cell heterogeneity and each populations has own biological characteristics. Treg deficiency, reduction, instability, reduced vitality and dysfunction all account for multiple autoimmune diseases. In this review, we have systemically reviewed Treg classification, phenotypic features, regulation of Foxp3 expression, plasticity and stability of Treg as well as their relationship with several important autoimmune diseases. We particularly focus on why and how inflammatory and diet environments affect the functional capacity and underlying mechanisms of Treg cell populations. We also summarize new advances in technologies which help to analyze and dissect these cells in molecular levels in-depth. We also clarify the possible clinical relevance on application of these cells in patients with autoimmune diseases. The advantages and weaknesses have been carefully discussed as well. We also propose the possible approaches to overcome these weaknesses of Treg cells in complicate environments. Thus, we have displayed the updated knowledge of Treg cells, which provides an overall insight into the role and mechanisms of Treg cells in autoimmune diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102461
JournalJournal of Autoimmunity
StatePublished - Jul 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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