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Regulatory T cells, ensuring a good immune memory

Regulatory T cells (Treg) are a sub-population of immune cells that prevent each individual from triggering immune reactions against his/her own organs.  In the context of some illnesses, these mechanisms may be defective: in this case, the term “auto-immune reactions” is applied. In this new research, published in the Science review, the team of researchers directed by Sebastian Amigorena (Institut Curie / Inserm U932 Immunity and Cancer unit) demonstrates that the regulatory T cells are also important during immune responses to external antigens, i.e. during infection.

By regulating the interactions between cells with antigens and T cells, Treg prefer engaging “high affinity” cells in terms of antigens, thus boosting the immune response. However, if there are no Treg, this first stage of immune response is defective, leading – in time – to an incorrect memorization process of pathogens and, consequently, to reduced defense mechanisms against infection (for example).

Shedding light on this new property of regulating T cells could prove significant in terms of developing vaccination strategies over time.

crédit photo M Depardieu/Inserm

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« Regulatory T cells increase the avidity of primary CD8+ T cell responses and promote memory » L. Pace et coll.

[break]Science , 26 octobre 2012