Foxp3+ follicular regulatory T cells control the germinal center response.

Cambridge Institute for Medical Research and the Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK.
Nature medicine (Impact Factor: 28.05). 07/2011; 17(8):975-82. DOI: 10.1038/nm.2425
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Follicular helper (T(FH)) cells provide crucial signals to germinal center B cells undergoing somatic hypermutation and selection that results in affinity maturation. Tight control of T(FH) numbers maintains self tolerance. We describe a population of Foxp3(+)Blimp-1(+)CD4(+) T cells constituting 10-25% of the CXCR5(high)PD-1(high)CD4(+) T cells found in the germinal center after immunization with protein antigens. These follicular regulatory T (T(FR)) cells share phenotypic characteristics with T(FH) and conventional Foxp3(+) regulatory T (T(reg)) cells yet are distinct from both. Similar to T(FH) cells, T(FR) cell development depends on Bcl-6, SLAM-associated protein (SAP), CD28 and B cells; however, T(FR) cells originate from thymic-derived Foxp3(+) precursors, not naive or T(FH) cells. T(FR) cells are suppressive in vitro and limit T(FH) cell and germinal center B cell numbers in vivo. In the absence of T(FR) cells, an outgrowth of non-antigen-specific B cells in germinal centers leads to fewer antigen-specific cells. Thus, the T(FH) differentiation pathway is co-opted by T(reg) cells to control the germinal center response.

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