Dysfunctional cells in skin disorders

Regulatory T cells (Tregs) control the immune responses and prevent autoimmunity

After identifying a subset of skin-specific Tregs with properties typical of memory cells (mTregs) in mice, researchers at the University of California, US, analysed the mTreg population in human skin due to their importance in the regulation of tissue inflammation.

They found that human mTregs have unique features and localise to hair follicles in healthy skin. mTregs did not appear to recognise the same antigens as memory T cells isolated from blood. In healthy skin, mTregs were relatively static. However, in inflamed skin from patients with psoriasis, mTregs expanded and were highly proliferative.

The study suggests that mTregs are dysfunctional in inflammatory skin conditions. Further studies of Tregs in tissues and the factors that influence their maintenance and functions in health and disease are an essential next step in trying to understand how immune responses are regulated.

Rodriguez RS, Pauli ML, Neuhaus IM et al. J Clin Invest 2014; 124(3): 1027-36

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