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Entries from July 1, 2011 - July 31, 2011


Balance of the immune system determined by newly discovered T cells

From the VIB Press release:

A newly discovered cell type helps to determine the balance of the immune system. The cells are derived from FoxP3(+) regulatory T cells, which recently have been demonstrated to suppress disease during transplantation. Nature Medicine and Blood, two high-ranking scientific journals, are publishing findings by the Autoimmune Genetics Laboratory about this discovery.
Innumerable people suffer from immune system disorders. If the immune system is overactive, it can result in allergies and autoimmune diseases such as Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). If the immune system is not active enough, infections or tumors occur. It is therefore essential to maintain the right balance.
The Autoimmune Genetics Laboratory is investigating a new type of cell that helps to maintain this balance. These ‘follicular regulatory T cells’ (Tfrs) suppress the process by which antibodies are produced during infections and SLE. The Tfrs themselves are daughter cells of FoxP3(+) T cells, key regulators of the immune system.
From lupus to cancer

In order to prevent disease the immune system needs to be in balance. If the system is too active, it produces antibodies against harmless substances, as is the case with allergies. An overactive immune system can even attack the body’s own tissues, causing autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatism and diabetes. However, an insufficiently active immune system opens the way for rampant infections and tumors.
A complex network of regulatory cells is active to maintain this balance in our bodies. This must ensure that the immune system is sufficiently active and selective so that pathogenic intruders are recognized and eliminated in good time, but at the same time that it does not get out of control. This network of regulatory and activating cells is a long way from being fully unraveled. Dozens of researchers around the world are working to map this network.

This Tfr research is a joint collaboration between researchers from VIB-K.U.Leuven, the Australian National University (Aus) and the University of Cambridge (U.K.).


Linterman et al, Foxp3(+) follicular regulatory T cells control the germinal center response, Nat Med, 2011, doi:10.1038/nm.2425
Tian et al, Foxp3+ regulatory T cells exert asymmetric control over murine helper responses by inducing Th2 cell apoptosis, Blood, 2011, doi:10.1182/blood-2011-04-346056