Regulatory T cells: How do they suppress immune responses?

Shimon Sakaguchi, Kajsa Wing, Yasushi Onishi, Paz Prieto-Martin, Tomoyuki Yamaguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

680 Citations (Scopus)


Regulatory T cells (Tregs), either natural or induced, suppress a variety of physiological and pathological immune responses. One of the key issues for understanding Treg function is to determine how they suppress other lymphocytes at the molecular level in vivo and in vitro. Here we propose that there may be a key suppressive mechanism that is shared by every forkhead box p3 (Foxp3)+ Treg in vivo and in vitro in mice and humans. When this central mechanism is abrogated, it causes a breach in self-tolerance and immune homeostasis. Other suppressive mechanisms may synergistically operate with this common mechanism depending on the environment and the type of an immune response. Further, Treg-mediated suppression is a multi-step process and impairment or augmentation of each step can alter the ultimate effectiveness of Treg-mediated suppression. These findings will help to design effective ways for controlling immune responses by targeting Treg suppressive functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1105-1111
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Immunology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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