Publications & Reports

The effector T cell response to ryegrass pollen is counterregulated by simultaneous induction of regulatory T cells.

Mittag D, Scholzen A, Varese N, Baxter L, Paukovics G, Harrison LC, Rolland JM, O'Hehir RE
Department of Immunology, Monash University, Australia. [email protected]


Allergy is associated with pathological Th2 responses to otherwise harmless environmental Ags. In contrast, nonallergic individuals mount nonpathological immune responses to allergens, partly attributed to regulatory T cell (Treg) activity. Although thymus-derived natural Tregs have been shown to maintain tolerance to self-Ags and prevent autoimmunity, the generation of Tregs specific to non-self-Ags is less well understood. We investigated the potential for induction of Tregs from PBMCs of ryegrass pollen-allergic or healthy subjects by stimulation in vitro with ryegrass pollen extract in the absence of additional exogenous stimuli. We found that two subsets of proliferating CD4(+) T cells were induced, one expressing intermediate levels of Foxp3 (and IFN-gamma, IL-4, IL-17, or IL-2) and the other expressing high levels of Foxp3 (and no effector cytokines). After enrichment based on CD39 expression, the Foxp3(hi) subset suppressed CD4(+) T cell proliferation and IFN-gamma production. The Foxp3(hi) Treg originated from both conversion of dividing non-Tregs (CD4(+)CD25(-)CD127(hi)) and expansion of natural Tregs (CD4(+)CD25(+)CD127(lo)). Stable functional Tregs expressing high levels of Foxp3 were induced simultaneously with effector T cells by allergen stimulation. Induction of Foxp3(hi) Tregs was reduced in allergic subjects. These results indicate that the cogeneration of Foxp3(hi) Tregs in response to allergen may be a mechanism for controlling allergic reactions in healthy individuals, which is impaired in those with allergies.


  • Journal: Journal of Immunology
  • Published: 01/05/2010
  • Volume: 184
  • Issue: 9
  • Pagination: 4708-4716