Current opinion in immunology vol:19 issue:2 pages:176-185
The development and maintenance of regulatory T (T-reg) cells is crucial for determining the level of reactivity in the immune system. Until recently, however, surprisingly little was known about the factors involved in the development of these cells in the thymus or the mechanisms that maintain them in the periphery. Studies have now demonstrated that thymic development of T-reg cells is facilitated by TCRs with increased affinity for self-peptide-MHC complexes. Increased TCR affinity alone, however, is not sufficient to support the development of T-reg cells, and external factors such as CD80 and CD86, ligands for co-stimulatory receptor CD28, and interleukin 2 are required. These factors are also needed to maintain the T-reg cell subset in the periphery.