Immune Netw.  2007 Dec;7(4):167-172. 10.4110/in.2007.7.4.167.

Regulatory T Cells and Infectious Disease

  • 1Department of Pathobiology, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA.


Various cell types that express regulatory function may influence the pathogenesis of most and perhaps all infections. Some regulatory cells are present at the time of infection whereas others are induced or activated in response to infection. The actual mechanisms by which different types of infections signal regulatory cell responses remain poorly understood. However a most likely mechanism is the creation of a microenvironment that permits the conversion of conventional T cells into cells with the same antigen specificity that have regulatory function. Some possible means by which this can occur are discussed. The relationship between regulatory cells and infections is complex especially with chronic situations. The outcome can either be of benefit to the host or damage the disease control process or in rare instances appears to be a component of a finely balanced relationship between the host and the infecting agent. Manipulating the regulatory cell responses to achieve a favorable outcome of infection remains an unfulfilled objective of therapeutic immunology.


Regulatory T cells; infection

MeSH Terms

Allergy and Immunology
Communicable Diseases*
Sensitivity and Specificity
T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory*
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